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Australia sends troops to help contain coronavirus on bulk carrier that last changed crews in Manila

Australia sends troops to help contain coronavirus on cargo ship
29 Sep 2020


At least 17 of the 21-crew members of an ore carrier, which last changed crews in Manila, tested positive for COVID-19.

Australian soldiers are being deployed to Port Hedland, one of the world’s largest iron ore loading ports, to help contain a coronavirus outbreak on a bulk carrier that last changed crews in the seafaring city of Manila.

Seventeen of the 21-crew members on the ship have tested positive for the virus, ship owner Oldendorff Carriers said in a statement.

Ten of those confirmed with the virus have been moved to hotel quarantine while seven remain on board as part of an 11-person crew, authorities said.

Oldendorff said that the Manila crew change on September 5 complied with all protocols.

The statement neither mentioned the nationalities of the crew members with the virus, nor how many of the vessel’s staff are from the Philippines.

“All crew members tested negative for the virus before leaving the Philippines,” Oldendorff said.

The ship, which was scheduled to collect manganese ore which is used in steel production, is anchored off Port Hedland on the coast of Western Australia.

The sparsely populated state contained the virus early in the pandemic by closing its international and domestic borders. It now bars cruise ship arrivals but allows export carriers and limited international air arrivals in conjunction with a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Up to 10 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel were expected to be deployed to Port Hedland after a request for assistance from the state government, an ADF spokesman said in a statement.