Virus-stricken cruise ship told to leave Australian waters

Clay Curtis
March 26, 2020

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 coronavirus was traced to a cruise liner that docked in Sydney Harbour last week.

The MSC Magnifica cruise ship, carrying worldwide passengers who are banned from disembarking, is seen docked in Fremantle Harbour near Perth, Australia, March 24, 2020.

Although well below levels elsewhere in the world, the pace of Australia's infections is starting to pick up speed, reaching almost 2,800 cases and 13 deaths.

But worldwide passengers and also staff would certainly need to remain on board up until they can be flown out straight, claimed Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan.

Seven passengers have tested positive for COVID-19 aboard the Artania, which had been due to travel onward to South Africa but is now anchored near the port of Fremantle. "Our position is clear, we are not going to have a Sydney Harbour fiasco on our watch".

A second cruise ship, the MSC Magnifica, which refueled in Perth this week, is now in Western Australian waters after being refused entry in Dubai.

Germany's Phoenix Reisen, owner of the Artania, was not immediately available for comment. MSC Cruises, which has said it had no ill passengers, declined to comment on its destination.

The seven confirmed cases are not in critical condition and remain on the ship.

The discrepancies echo similar tensions elsewhere.

Wimbledon May Be Postponed Or Canceled Due To Coronavirus Pandemic
The men's and women's tours are now suspended until June 7, which includes the entire clay-court campaign. Novak Djokovic won Wimbledon in 2019. "The single most important consideration is one of public health".

The cruise ship operator MSC, however, has denied that any crew or passengers on the ship, which departed Italy in January, have respiratory or flu-like illnesses.

As for roughly 600 other Australians on the cruise ship, Mr McGowan said he was in talks with their home states about bringing them back to free up capacity on Rottnest.

Shipowner Britain's Cruise & Maritime Voyages said it was carrying no unwell passengers or staff.

WA has recorded 47 cases from cruise ships in total.

"The main thing we want is the ship gone".

"I will not allow what has happened in Sydney to happen here in Western Australia". Police are monitoring the cruises to make sure no one disembarks on Australian soil, and what they'll do next still remains undecided.

With the number of Covid-19 cases rising quickly, Australia has introduced a series of restrictions, including the forced closure of pubs, restaurants and cinemas.

Further job losses are also expected, with some economists expecting Australian unemployment rate to double this year to more than 11%.

Flight Centre today said a third of its 20,000 strong workforce faced temporary or permanent redundancy, while retail tycoon Solomon Lew's Premier Investments Ltd temporarily closed all stores in Australia.

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