Passengers talk from their balconies aboard Maltese-flagged Mein Schiff 6, operated by German travel giant TUI.
Passengers talk from their balconies aboard Maltese-flagged Mein Schiff 6, operated by German travel giant TUI.

COVID-19 outbreak on ship off Australia's coast

Authorities are concerned by a COVID-19 outbreak aboard a cargo ship off Australia's northwest coast that has infected most of the crew.

Eight more members of the Filipino crew tested positive for the new coronavirus on Monday, bringing the number of infections to 17 out of a crew of 21.

Seven of the infected sailors remained aboard the Liberia-flagged bulk carrier Patricia Oldendorff, which is anchored off Port Hedland, a major iron ore export terminal, Western Australia State Health Minister Roger Cook said on Tuesday.

The seven are part of an essential skeleton crew of nine. The other 10 infected crew members were in hotel quarantine at Port Hedland. None required hospital treatment.

Cook said he wanted to bring the skeleton crew ashore, but the ship would need a replacement crew and to undergo a deep clean before that replacement crew boarded.

"It's a tricky situation," Cook told Australian Broadcasting Corp. "There is still a range of hurdles and challenges that we have to negotiate over the coming 24-to-48 hours." Health authorities have warned of potentially disastrous consequences if the virus spreads among the remote Port Hedland community, particularly if it reaches surrounding Indigenous populations.

Greece tests more cruise ship crew amid outbreak

Health inspectors in Greece are carrying out additional COVID-19 tests on crew members of a cruise ship with more than 1,500 people on board, ordering the ship to stop at a testing area at the country's largest port near Athens.

The Maltese-flagged Mein Schiff 6, which is on a Greek island cruise, was docked Tuesday at the port of Piraeus after sample testing of the crew found 12 crew members were positive but asymptomatic, the Greek Merchant Marine Ministry said.

Passengers had undergone coronavirus tests before boarding.

But since only 150 of the ship's 666 crew members had been tested, the public health team will re-test the 12 positive cases as well as anyone else deemed necessary by the ship's crew and doctor.

The vessel, operated by TUI Cruises, has 922 passengers. It began its trip late Sunday from the port of Iraklio, on the island of Crete.

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