Crew member on cargo ship off Port Hedland tests positive to coronavirus


A male crew member of a second cargo ship anchored off Port Hedland has tested positive to coronavirus.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook said the crew member on Vega Dream reported feeling unwell and has since been transferred to Hedland Hospital.

Mr Cook said the man had returned a “weak” positive result to a bedside test with those results being sent to Perth for verification.

“At this stage we do not have any reason to believe there is any cause for concern, either for the other crew members who are all reporting well or for the Port Hedland community,” he said.

“I want to assure everyone that every precaution is taken in these situations to make sure we look after the patient in question but also those people around them.”

Mr Cook could not confirm the man’s age or nationality but said the vessel had been at sea for about 16 days and had come from Shanghai via Manila.

He said the vessel berthed off Port Hedland on Friday night.

Mr Cook said no port crew members had boarded Vega Dream and health officials were yet to determine whether crew members on board would need to be tested.

“My priority is to get this ship to sail today, it carries important cargo for the Western Australian economy and we need to make sure that we take the opportunity to keep that ship moving,” he said.

He said there was no reports of other crew members feeling unwell and if that was the case, the vessel should set sail 3pm Sunday without any further issues.

According to the Health Department, while a laboratory-confirmed positive result was anticipated, it was not a given and the confirmed result would be known Monday.

“Based on the current information, the State Health Incident Coordination Centre has declared a new outbreak,” the Health Department website read.

“This is a precautionary measure in the interests of safety and response and consistent with the Outbreak Management Plan. If the laboratory result is negative, the response will be stood down.”

“This is a rapidly evolving situation and new information is continuing to come to hand.”

The man is stable, isolated from general hospital population and has not had contact with the public.

Vega Dream has a crew of 20, with the remaining 19 seafarers still on the vessel.

This latest case comes as bulk carrier Patricia Oldendorff sets off from Port Hedland, where it had been anchored for weeks because of a coronavirus outbreak.

Confirmed cases of coronavirus recorded in the state on Sunday was two.

Both are international travellers, one from India and the other from the UK.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook said both were in quarantine and did not present any public health risk. The latest cases bring the state’s total to 694.

It comes as WA Premier Mark McGowan declared the state hadn’t had any detected community infection of the disease for six months.

“Six months today without any community cases, which is a good result,” he said.

“It shows the measures we’ve used, including our hard border with the east have worked.”
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald



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