Quarantine with quokkas: Australian cruise passengers moved to Rottnest

Clay Curtis
March 27, 2020

A woman in her 70s from the Ruby Princess Ship also died from coronavirus, and more than 300 passengers from the cruise ship have tested positive for the disease.

The Western Australian premier, Mark McGowan, said on Wednesday that he would be "exercising the Rottnest option" for Australian citizens and residents aboard the Vasco da Gama, which was due to arrive in Fremantle on Friday.

Other nationalities on the 1220 passenger vessel, including 109 New Zealanders, will remain onboard the da Gama until arrangements can be made to repatriate them.

The holiday island of Rottnest has been emptied to create a quarantine centre for Australian cruise passengers.

In the island, the quokkas have no predators and are often featured in selfies, which are taken by the tourists on the island for its clear blue sky and sandy beaches.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trad told 10 daily they are aware of about 25 cruise ships and 3,000 passengers on board who are seeking to return to Australia.

The state's chief health officer said NSW Health is expecting to see an increase in people testing positive to COVID-19. Australian sates have cracked down on arrivals from cruise ships following the Ruby Princess' disembarkation Sydney, after which 130 passengers were found to have coronavirus.

The WA Government has said current staffing levels on the island will be sufficient to cater for the passengers, reported ABC.

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"They will not be allowed to disembark at any time unless it is to travel under strict supervision directly to the airport, or they need urgent medical attention to survive", McGowan said.

"This ship needs to leave immediately", he told reporters.

The ship's operator, Cruise and Maritime Voyages Australia, said it was disappointed it was not told that its docking permission had been rescinded before McGowan announced it to the media.

The health official kept the new seven cases on the ship as none of them is in critical condition.

Doctors examine a patient in an isolation room at the care unit for new COVID-19 infected patients inside the Koranyi National Institute of Pulmonology in Budapest, Hungary.

The CDC report also said that passengers on the Diamond Princess mainly spread the virus before the ship went into quarantine, but infections among the crew peaked afterwards.

WA has become the first state to restrict takeaway alcohol sales for at least two weeks, in a effort to prevent the healthcare system from being overburdened.

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