Monday 30 March 2020
A military-style operation has removed 800 passengers from a German cruise ship floating off the coast of Western Australia.
Nineteen passengers on the MV Artania who are infected with coronavirus will be treated at Perth's Joondalup Health Campus hospital as part of a last-minute deal with the federal health department.
Another 800 passengers have been flown back to Germany overnight, but those on-board suspected to have COVID-19 still don't know if they can leave Australia.
More than 70 passengers and crew on board the the Artania cruise ship in Fremantle are now suspected of being infected with the coronavirus, causing a further headache for the West Australian government.
On Friday, nine people confirmed or suspected of being infected with COVID-19 disembarked from the Artania and were taken into quarantine at the WA police academy.
Two other ill people, who do not have coronavirus, remain in hospital after leaving the ship on Thursday.
Plans were under way for the hundreds of healthy European passengers and some crew to be flown to Germany on three planes over the weekend. It is not clear if that will still happen.
Hundreds of people stranded on a cruise ship in Western Australia will be evacuated to Germany within days, but seven passengers with coronavirus will likely be treated locally.
Most of the almost 832 passengers onboard the German-owned Artania vessel will be dispatched to Frankfurt on charter flights.
"By the end of the weekend, nearly all of them will be evacuated on three planes back to Germany," Senator Mathias Cormann told Sky News on Friday.
Seven people - five guests and two crew members - have been infected with coronavirus and have mild symptoms.
Senator Cormann indicated they would receive medical care in Australia.
"Some appropriate arrangements will be put in place locally, again, in close coordination and consultation between the federal and state governments," he said.
The state government on Thursday insisted the Commonwealth must manage those people.
One ill person, who does not have coronavirus, was taken off the ship by boat on Thursday for medical treatment.
The ship was later allowed to dock in Fremantle after a second person became unwell with an unrelated illness, but no one else disembarked.
There are no Australians on the vessel or on the cruise ship Magnifica, which is anchored off Fremantle but does not have any coronavirus cases.
About 200 locals onboard the Vasco da Gama will next week go into quarantine on Rottnest Island for 14 days, while about 600 other Australians will likely return to their home states.