Australian defense personnel are being dispatched to Port Hedland, one of the world‘s largest iron ore loading ports, to contain a coronavirus outbreak on a bulk carrier that last changed crew in the major seafaring city of Manila.
Seventeen of the airline’s 21 crew members have tested positive for the virus, the shipowner Oldendorff Carriers said in a statement.
Ten of the infected crew members have been placed in hotel quarantine, while seven infected workers remain on board as part of a nine-person crew, authorities said.
Oldendorff said the crew change in Manila on September 5th had followed all protocols.
“All crew members tested negative for the virus before leaving the Philippines,” said Oldendorff.
The ship that was supposed to collect manganese ore used for steel production is anchored off Port Hedland on Australia’s northwest coast.
The port is used by some of Australia’s best iron ore mines, including the BHP Group and the Fortescue Metals Group. However, operations were not affected, said the Pilbara Ports Authority.
A spokesman for privately-owned manganese producer Consolidated Minerals, who was expecting the ship, said a new ship has been chartered and will arrive early next week.
The disruption has no effect on annual deliveries.
Western Australia closed its borders early in the pandemic. It now locks cruise lines but allows export airlines and limited flight arrivals. There have been no local virus cases for almost six months.
“We are well prepared to deal with the situation in Port Hedland and all possible measures are being taken to protect the local community,” Western Australian Prime Minister Mark McGowan told reporters on Tuesday.
“We must handle this situation carefully and those who are in hotel quarantine will be kept out of the public eye and under close supervision.”
An ADF spokesman said in a statement that up to 10 employees of the Australian Defense Force (ADF) are to be sent to Port Hedland after a request from the state government for support.
The Australian coronavirus hotspot state Victoria reported 10 new infections in the last 24 hours on Tuesday and turned around a second wave of contagion that infected over 700 people daily just last month.
The country’s second largest state has placed almost 5 million residents in its capital Melbourne under one of the strictest bans in the world since early August.
The state, which causes most of the country’s 27,000+ infections and 882 deaths, lifted some of the restrictions on Sunday, including night curfews.
(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)