JavaScript is off. Please enable to view full site.

Australia in huge operation to test 9,000 crew stranded on cruise ships

Thursday, April 02, 2020, 14:53 GMT+7
Australia in huge operation to test 9,000 crew stranded on cruise ships
Ship owners have reportedly asked that crew stranded on ships be allowed to fly to their home countries. Photo: AFP

Australian police and military will soon begin helicoptering doctors to several cruise ships stranded near Sydney to assess nearly 9,000 crew for COVID-19, officials said Thursday.

The military-style operation, due to begin by the weekend, is aimed at resolving a standoff between cruise line operators and authorities who fear a wave of new imported coronavirus cases would overwhelm local hospitals.

Australia ordered a ban on all cruise liners in mid-March, but later allowed Australian nationals to disembark from four ships in Sydney - a decision which led to more than 450 new COVID-19 cases in the country.

"I'm holding the line on this," said Police Commissioner Mick Fuller of New South Wales state, which includes Sydney and where most of the cruise ships are located.

"My fear is by bringing 9,000 people off the cruise ships into isolation, not knowing if they have the virus or they may develop symptoms, that would absolutely overload our hospital system," he said Thursday.

"We will drop doctors across eight ships, 9,000 people -- It's a big task in itself," he said.

Fuller said anyone found to need urgent medical care would be brought to facilities onshore, but the ships would be expected to head to their home ports with the rest of their crews.

"We are taking a sensible but pragmatic approach to these cruise ships," he said, adding that talks with the ships' owners were ongoing.

Local media reports say a total of 18 foreign-registered ships are in Australian waters or ports with up to 15,000 crew on board.

Ship owners have reportedly asked that crew stranded on ships be allowed to fly to their home countries.

But while authorities in Western Australia permitted some 800 German cruise ship passengers to fly home last weekend, officials have baulked at doing the same for thousands of crew.

Australia has registered more than 5,000 cases of COVID-19 and 23 deaths.

AFP

More

Read more

;

Photos

VIDEOS

Experience summer sand-boarding in Mui Ne

Sand-boarding, a popular activity amongst local children in the coastal tourism town of Mui Ne in south-central Vietnam, is attracting hundreds of tourists to the Red Sand Dunes

Young maple trees given better protection as Hanoi enters rainy season

The trees are currently growing well, with green leaves and healthy branches.

Hunting skinks for food in southern Vietnam

Skink meat is known to be soft, tasty, and highly nutritious.

Vietnamese-made app allows people to grow real veggies via smartphone

Nguyen Thi Duyen, a young engineer in Hanoi, developed the app and its related services to help busy people create their own veggie gardens.

Chinese tourists hit by Vietnamese over dine and dash

Four Chinese were reportedly injured, with one having a broken arm.

Latest news