Western Australia could turn away Covid ships

Local politicians in Western Australia and other Australian states are reported to be discussing refusing entry to vessels that have cases of Covid-19 on board. There have been several recent high-profile cases of Covid-19 infections on vessels off Western Australian ports.

Mark McGowan, the premier of Western Australia, told parliament on Tuesday that state authorities were working to determine whether they could turn infected vessels around. He noted that the state had dealt with four outbreaks on ships in local waters in three weeks. “We are still looking at and getting as much information as we can on whether or not we can just turn ships around that turn up with infected seafarers, so that we send a message to the shipping companies and to the importers and exporters,” McGowan said.

However, he noted that “the problem with that of course, is if we launch that policy, is that they then may not tell us … that they have infected seafarers on board.”

Western Australia’s health minister Roger Cook had previously called for mining companies to seek alternative places for crew other than Manila after two ships arrived at Port Hedland from the Philippine capital with confirmed Covid-19 cases onboard.

McGowan admitted that he had known since the weekend that two Australians were allowed to disembark from the Al Messilah (IMO 7924425) at Fremantle before the outbreak of 25 cases of Covid-19 was discovered on board. A vet from Sydney and a stock manager from Busselton, south-west Western Australia, had been on the livestock carrier for up to eight months when it docked at Fremantle last week. The pair disembarked the ship and were allowed to go home to an automatic quarantine. The ship itself had not at that point in time recorded or reported any cases of Covid-19. It had been at sea for some time.

All the crew of the Al Messilah have been taken off the vessel and moved to hotel quarantine in Perth.

1980-built, Kuwait-flagged, 38,988 gt Al Messilah is owned and managed by Livestock Transport of Safat, Kuwait. It is entered with Steamship Mutual (Eastern Syndicate) on behalf of Livestock Transport & Trading Co KSC.