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Representational Image

Thousands of passengers on three cruise ships were stranded off Australia's west coast Wednesday as officials refused to let them land to avoid repeating the "utter disaster" of a previous cruise-related coronavirus surge.

The Artania and Magnifica were anchored off the West Australian port of Fremantle with a third, the Vasco de Gama, on its way.

"There are no circumstances we will allow passengers or crew to wander the streets in our state," West Australian Premier Mark McGowan told media on Wednesday.

The Magnifica, carrying around 1,700 passengers, departed Fremantle Tuesday after being allowed to refuel, but was forced to turn back when told it could not dock in Dubai.

Meanwhile health officials were testing some of the more than 800 passengers on board the Artania for coronavirus after the ship reported 25 people had a respiratory illness. A string of virus cases have been connected with cruise ship arrivals in Australia.

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