Image Credit: File

Sydney: The Premier of the Aussie state of Western Australia (WA) Mark McGowan announced on Wednesday that 800 Australian cruise ship passengers would be quarantined on the Rottnest Island for two weeks in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

WA recorded 30 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, bringing the state's total number to 205. McGowan said about one in four confirmed cases in WA had been linked to cruise ships.

The Vasco da Gama cruise ship carrying 800 Australians is due to arrive at Fremantle Port on Friday. There are 950 passengers and 550 crew in total, including 109 New Zealanders and 33 from Britain.

All Australians, including the West Australians, will be immediately transferred to Rottnest Island for 14 days of self-isolation, McGowan said, adding all crew and foreign nationals will remain on the ship until arrangements are made to fly them directly out of Australia.

He said no one would be allowed to disembark at any time "unless it is to travel under strict supervision directly to the airport, or they need urgent medical attention to survive".

Two other cruise ships, the Artania and the Magnifica, were both held offshore at anchor. And the state government is waiting for immediate assistance from the federal government and the police commissioner on how to deal with them.

The Artania, which was due to arrive at Fremantle for refuelling only, had reported illness on board. WA Health Department officials have boarded the ship after 25 people reported respiratory symptoms.

There are more than 800 passengers and 500 crew on board and none of them are Australian. One passenger who had tested positive to COVID-19 is no longer on the ship.

The Magnifica is currently anchored offshore Fremantle. No passengers were allowed to disembark. "We're continuing to deal with fast moving and internationally complex issues around cruise ship arrivals in Fremantle," McGowan said.

"I will not allow what has happened in Sydney, with the Ruby Princess to happen here in Western Australia," he said.

Coronavirus cases has passed 1,000 in the state of New South Wales (NSW), with many new cases linked to passengers from the Ruby Princess ship.

About 2,700 passengers got off the ship at Sydney's Circular Quay last week and more than 100 have since tested positive for COVID-19.

NSW Health said in a statement Wednesday that there had been no increase in cases diagnosed in NSW from the ship.

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