Coronavirus: Australia demands German cruise ship leave its waters ′immediately′ | News | DW | 26.03.2020

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Coronavirus: Australia demands German cruise ship leave its waters 'immediately'

Seven people on board the German-based ship Artania have tested positive for COVID-19. Officials have previously allowed hundreds of infected passengers from other ships to disembark.

A German-based cruise ship with seven cases of coronavirus on board needs to leave Australian waters, the state premier of Western Australia Mark McGowan said on Thursday. 

One week ago, passengers of another cruise ship became the primary source of the coronavirus outbreak in Australia.

"Its home port is actually Germany...This ship needs to leave immediately. I want the Commonwealth to make that happen," McGowan told reporters in Perth.

If the seven ill passengers need to disembark for treatment, they will need to go to a government facility, such as a defense force base, he added. The Australian and German governments could then arrange for them to fly home after their treatment. Passengers will not be allowed to disembark in Australia except in the case of a "life-threatening emergency."

The cruise ship Artania is currently anchored off the western city of Perth.

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Five passengers and two crew members on board have tested positive for COVID-19. Western Australian health officials boarded the vessel on Wednesday after the ship reported 25 people with respiratory symptoms and asked for help.

Some 800 passengers, mostly German, and 500 crew members are on board, authorities in Western Australia said. There are no Australian passengers.

McGowan had previously said that the Australian Navy could help the cruise ship leave Australian waters once it had refuelled, but that it must continue to its next planned stop in South Africa.

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Another cruise liner, the MSC Magnifica, was refused entry in Perth earlier this week and was now leaving Australian waters, McGowan said.

The state premier said he did not want a repeat of the Ruby Princess cruise ship incident. Last week, 2,700 passengers from the Ruby Princess cruise ship disembarked in Sydney with minimal health checks. More than 130 later tested positive for COVID-19, including one person who died.

Australia is taking similar precautionary measures with other arriving cruise ships, forbidding foreign passengers from disembarking and placing Australian travelers in quarantine.

The country currently has over 2,800 cases of coronavirus and had reported 12 deaths as of Thursday.

kp/rt (dpa, Reuters)

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