SYDNEY, Mar 26 (NNN-BNA) – Two cruise ships, off the coast of Western Australia, have been told to “immediately” leave Australian waters, after the country’s worst outbreak of the COVID-19 was traced to a cruise liner that docked at Sydney Harbour last week. Cruise ships have become a flash point for the epidemic in Australia after 147 of 2,700 passengers, who disembarked from the Ruby Princess cruise ship in Sydney, later tested positive for COVID-19.
The outbreak from the Ruby Princess represents the country’s worst cluster of the virus, and has sparked anger over why passengers, more than a dozen, showing flu-like symptoms, were cleared to disembark without basic health checks.
State authorities clashed with the central government over the handling of the issue, adding to tensions over matters, including virus testing and school closures as the number of cases rapidly rises above 2,550, with 12 dead.
On Thursday, seven of 800 foreign passengers on board the German-operated MV Artania tested positive for COVID-19, and two more were unwell.
West Australian premier, Mark McGowan, said, no one would be permitted to disembark unless there was a “life threatening emergency.”
“This ship needs to leave immediately,” he said, “Our position is clear, we are not going to have a Sydney Harbour fiasco on our watch.”
The premier said, he discussing with federal authorities whether ill passengers could be air-lifted to a military base or similar for treatment.
A second cruise ship, the MSC Magnifica, which refueled in Perth this week, is currently in Western Australian waters after being refused entry in Dubai.
The premier said, no passengers on board were ill and arrangements were being made for it to travel to Europe or another port.
A spokeswoman for MSC Cruises, which owns the Magnifica, declined to comment on where the vessel would go.– NNN-BNA