‘Get ship away from our state’
West Australian Premier Mark McGowan wants a cruise ship that's been floating off the coast for days, on which seven people have tested positive for coronavirus, to "get away from our state".
The MS Artania has repeatedly requested to dock at Fremantle Port but authorities have refused over fears of the health implications.
None of the passengers are Australian and there are seven confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two suspected cases on board.
Speaking to the media this afternoon, Mr McGowan said a resolution for the situation would be rolled out this weekend, with three flights standing by to return the passengers to Europe.
"This is an urgent situation, and we need to get this ship away from our state," he said. "The best way for that to occur is for all the non-COVID passengers to be taken off the ship and taken directly to their home country."
Yesterday, two people were evacuated from the shop for emergency medical reasons not related to coronavirus.
One was taken by police boat and is in intensive care and in a critical condition. A second was removed when the ship was allowed to birth at Fremantle Port because the person couldn't be taken by sea. That person is also in ICU in a critical condition.
"WA Police are closely monitoring the ship to prevent people from leaving the ship," Mr McGowan said.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Australian cruise ship passengers on a second vessel, also floating off the coast of Western Australia, will be back on dry land on Sunday, but will be immediately placed in a makeshift quarantine camp on Rottnest Island.
Mr McGowan confirmed the Vasco da Gama cruise ship will finally birth at Fremantle Port later today, ending days of limbo for passengers.
New Zealanders will be removed and flown home on Saturday evening. On Sunday, West Australian residents will disembark.
Mr McGowan said all West Australians on board will be transferred directly to the recently vacated Rottnest Island for two weeks of quarantine.
Passengers from other states will need to stay on the ship until they could be flown back to their home states.
"We have seen what has happened in Sydney Harbour," he said earlier this week. "It was a complete and utter disaster. I will not allow that to happen in WA.
"There are no circumstances where we will allow passengers or crew to wander the streets in our state," he said.
"We have cleared the island of visitors and made arrangements for accommodation, catering and security.
"We are exercising the Rottnest option now for two reasons. One, to protect the safety of the Australian passengers and two, to protect the West Australian community from any possible infection or transmission from this cruise ship."
The Vasco da Gama isn't the only cruise ship experiencing drama off the WA coast.
Phoenix travel agency in Bonn, Germany, said in a statement regarding the Artania passengers: "To make the organisation as smooth as possible Australian authorities have stipulated that passengers can take one piece of luggage on the flight.
"The specially chartered plane will be accompanied by Phoenix travel agents and there will be passengers on the flight which do not have their constant place of residence Germany as long as their journey from the plane's destination in Frankfurt to their destination outside of Germany is possible."
"We promise that we will do everything on board and back in Germany so that your relatives and friends are feeling well and are back home safe soon."
Originally published as 'Get ship away from our state'