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Bulk carrier with COVID-infected crew to arrive in Perth early on Monday

Bulk carrier with COVID-infected crew to arrive in Perth early on Monday
Lauren Pilat August 23, 2021 —

An international ship carrying 16 crew members suspected of having COVID-19 is making its way from Albany to Perth for assessment.

Bulk carrier Ken Hou is due to dock south of Perth early on Monday for Western Australian authorities to assess the crew experiencing respiratory problems.

Premier Mark McGowan said authorities instructed the ship to sail for Cockburn Sound where the crew could be tested.

“The Australian Maritime Authority is keen for the ship to stay in Cockburn Sound for some period,” he said.

“I’ve sought every assurance this morning that every precaution is in place to protect the state in this circumstance. These ships continue to be a problem.”

The difference with Ken Hou, which is sailing under the flag of Panama, is that it came from Thailand, not Indonesia like previous COVID-infected ships.

Thailand has been scrambling to curb the spread of the Delta strain of COVID-19 in the community since April after faring reasonably well compared to other Asian countries during the earlier months of the pandemic.

The country surpassed one million cases last week, with authorities reporting almost 20,000 new infections and 240 deaths on Friday. To date, almost 10,000 Thai people have died from the virus.

“It’s different to the other ships we’ve experienced but we’re currently dealing with that issue,” Mr McGowan said.

“We’ll assess her in Fremantle when she gets here but we’ll do everything we can to keep our state safe.”

The decision to allow the ship to berth or not will rely on further assessments by health experts to determine the best course of action for the vessel, a Health Department statement said.

WA Health is working closely with key stakeholders to prepare for the vessel’s arrival.

Another vessel, Poavosa Wisdom, reported two people with cold-like symptoms and was due to anchor in Cockburn Sound on Sunday.

However, Mr McGowan said there wasn’t too much a concern with that ship.

“The expectation, or the suspicion is that it’s not COVID, let’s hope that’s true,” he said.

“But I just wanted to be totally transparent and inform people that there is another ship that we have to analyse.”

The last time Poavosa Wisdom was in Indonesia was August 1.