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One of the first cruise ships allowed back in Western Australia since the pandemic began has been struck by a Covid outbreak as 12 people on board test positive.
Authorities are working to contain the virus on the Coral Discoverer, which arrived in Broome early on Monday, after ten passengers and two crew contracted the virus.
The vessel, carrying 61 passengers and 30 crew, had completed a 10-day voyage from Darwin.
The incident comes just one week after a two-year ban on cruise ships entering Australia was lifted on April 18 – inspiring hope the $5billion cruise industry would swiftly return to its former glory after being crippled by the pandemic.
A spokesman for the ship’s operator, Coral Expeditions, said all guests and passengers were triple-vaccinated in line with WA requirements.
Coral Discoverer (pictured) is at the centre of a Covid outbreak after 12 people on board tested positive in Western Australia
The positive guests and their close contacts had isolated and some had been transported to designated hotels in Broome to finish their isolation periods.
‘All of the guests were either asymptomatic or had mild symptoms,’ he said.
Small cruise ships carrying no more than 350 passengers and crew have been permitted to enter West Australian waters since April 17.
‘Maritime vessels are permitted to allow positive cases to disembark and move to suitable accommodation to complete their isolation requirements,’ a WA Health spokeswoman said on Monday.
‘There are strict guidelines in place which outline the infection prevention and control measures that need to be followed during disembarkation and transport.
‘All precautions will be taken to ensure the Broome community is protected.’
The federal government banned cruise ships from entering Australians waters in March 2020 after 2700 passengers on the Ruby Princess were allowed to freely disembark in Sydney Harbour, sparking 900 cases and 28 deaths across Australia.
The vessel had just arrived in Broome (pictured) after a 10-day voyage from Darwin
An inquiry found NSW Health had responsibility for the passengers and largely absolved border officials.
In 2019, the cruise ship industry supported about 18,000 jobs and generated about $5billion in direct and indirect revenue for the economy.
But it was brought to its knees the following year as Covid spread across the globe, stifling the travel industry.
Paving the way for the return of ships, NSW, Queensland, and Victoria have outlined testing and vaccination rules for both international passengers and crew.
Tasmania and SA are still reviewing their rules and ships are restricted to smaller domestic vessels carrying up to 99 passengers.
The outbreak comes as WA Health on Monday reported 5639 Covid cases and the death of a man in his 80s.
There are 240 cases in hospital, including nine in intensive care.
Source: DailyMail AU