Canberra: An idyllic island off Australia's west coast, known for its native marsupials, will now host nationals who were onboard a cruise ship and have been forced to quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Australians who had been onboard the Vasco da Gama cruise liner arrived at Rottnest Island on Monday for two weeks of isolation, joining the local population of quokkas -- a marsupial species which became world famous for appearing in celebrity selfies, reports Xinhua news agency.
In the past, thousands of visitors to the West Australian (WA) island, including Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer and Australian superstar Chris Hemsworth, have tajen selfies with the quokkas and posted them online.
However, last week the white sandy beaches and rich nature-topped dunes were closed for tourists, allowing authorities to set up local accommodation options and establish a quarantine centre.
"The intention is that we take people out there who are well, they isolate for 14 days and hopefully they come off at the end of that time and they can go back home," WA Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said.
Meanwhile, all crew and non-Australians would remain on the ship until arrangements could be made to fly them home.
WA has recorded over 300 cases of COVID-19, roughly three quarters of which have come directly off a flight or cruise ship.
On the other side of the country in Sydney, the fallout continued over a cruise ship which was allowed to dock and release passengers, over 100 of whom later tested positive for COVID-19 having spread the disease throughout the community.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Australia currently stands at 3,984, while the death toll was 17.