‘Significant threat’: Port workers slam Australia’s shipping measures after new COVID case in NT
A 25-year-old crew member on the Diamantina cattle export vessel, which has arrived in Darwin from Indonesia, has tested positive for COVID-19.
The man was tested onboard when the ship arrived at the East Arm wharf on Sunday night.
He has since been admitted to the Royal Darwin Hospital, where he is in isolation.
The majority of other crew members have been transported to a separate section of the Howard Springs quarantine facility.
They will complete 14 days of mandatory supervised isolation unless the Diamantina’s operators elect to leave Darwin sooner, in which case they will be escorted back to the ship.
Some crew members are required to remain on board the Diamantina to comply with international maritime law. Testing will be undertaken and they are required to stay on board in self-isolation.
Those who came into contact with the ship will also be placed into isolation. However, they were wearing personal protective equipment when boarding the vessel and did not contact the infected man.
Northern Territory Health Minister Natasha Fyles said there was no indication anyone had breached the territory’s public health orders.
“We’ve certainly had very strong compliance to date and authorities have been appropriately engaged, whether it’s from Health, Maritime Safety or from police,” Ms Fyles told reporters on Tuesday.
“These vessels, not only do they bring goods that Australians need … these are vital supply chain vessels.”
The man’s case takes the total number of coronavirus infections diagnosed in the NT to 75.
All have been related to international or interstate travel, with no cases of community transmission.
The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) says the COVID-19 case highlights a “significant threat” posed by international shipping.
The union said vessels continue to “dock around Australia inside the 14 day quarantine period imposed on other travellers, while the maritime arrival system remained reliant on a self-declaration system where a ship’s master is responsible for reporting if there are sick crew members on board.”
“The Federal Government must stop shirking their responsibilities and step in with an improved, nationally-consistent set of measures that include mandatory health checks and COVID testing for all international vessel arrivals,” MUA’s NT acting branch secretary Thomas Mayor said.
He added that the Darwin case was only picked up thanks to additional quarantine steps put in place by the Territory Government.