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Sick ship workers may be treated at Perth hospitals

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Eight of the crew aboard the virus-stricken cargo ship in Fremantle are now reporting COVID-19 like symptoms, Premier Mark McGowan has confirmed, warning that the crew appears “heavily infected”.

The BBC California cargo ship berthed in Fremantle this morning after seven of its 14 crew started reporting virus-like symptoms.

The mariners may have contracted the virus in Delta-ravaged Indonesia, where they berthed at three ports before leaving on July 11.


They were tested this morning and results are expected later this afternoon.

Premier Mark McGowan said he suspected these tests to return positive results.

“We expect their results to come through later this afternoon. Should any of the results be positive for COVID-19, the remaining six crew members on board the ship will also be tested,” Mr McGowan said.

“Every precaution is being taken to ensure the safety of Port workers and the Western Australian community.”

Mr McGowan said he hoped the crew members would stay onboard but conceded they may have to travel to hospitals onshore if they become ill.

“If they can be managed onboard the ship, they will be managed onboard the ship,” he said.

The International Transport Worker’s Federation (ITF) commended the BBC California’s captain for “doing the right thing” by requesting medical assistance.

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“He has put the health and wellbeing of his crew first and foremost,” a spokesperson said.

Camera IconPremier Mark McGowan. Credit: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

The union also praised the State Government for their actions – but insisted that all crews should be entitled to medical assistance, regardless of the number of positive infections.

The ship was allowed to berth in Fremantle due to more than half of its crew displaying virus symptoms.

“The ITF commends the WA Government for its handling of this matter,” the spokesperson said.

“The ITF is concerned however, that crews working on ships may be treated differently depending on how many potential infections are on board at any given time.

“The ITF supports the principal that all seafarers have a right to medical assistance where ever and whenever it is needed. It is enshrined it the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) and Australia is a signatory to the MLC.”

Sick mariners should be hospitalised if necessary, the union insisted.

There was one new case of COVID-19 in Western Australia overnight, a returned overseas traveller in hotel quarantine.

It comes as South Australia recorded a local case of COVID-19.

Mr McGowan said that health authorities would monitor the situation in the state ” very closely.”

“It doesn’t necessitate a change in the rules at this point in time. But if we have to [impose border rules] obviously we will,” he said.

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