BRISBANE, Australia — A British-flagged tanker ship with Covid-positive crew is making its way towards Australia and has been permitted to anchor off Brisbane.
Online vessel tracking shows the ship heading towards the Queensland capital, having departed Port Vila.
“There is a booking for the vessel to come into an outer anchorage,” the official said.
It is understood arrangements were being made for the tanker to be boarded by Australian health and other officials, a maritime official said.
It is expected that they will all be wearing full protective safety gear.
Workers boarded the Inge Kosan at Sydney’s Port Botany on March 31 and April 1.
There was a health scare at that time, but the dockworkers wore protective gear and did not contract the virus.
The tanker carrying liquefied petroleum gas has come from Papua New Guinea, where the coronavirus pandemic is escalating.
It traveled from Port Botany to deliver fuel to the sprawling Pacific nation of Vanuatu.
Blood samples were sent to Sydney, and 11 of the 12 crew — and another crew member whose body washed up on a Vanuatu beach — all tested positive for coronavirus.
There have been calls in Vanuatu for a thorough investigation into why the body of the middle-aged Filipino national crew member was in the sea, as well as into how he died.
“There is no question that the circumstances are highly suspicious,” Dan McGarry, a Canadian journalist based in Vanuatu, said.
The ship had been scheduled to deliver fuel to the Solomon Islands, but it was reportedly refused entry.
When asked about the vessel, Australia’s Department of Home Affairs said only that the Australian Border Force has responsibility for customs and immigration clearance and works closely with local state and territory health officials.
“Quarantine arrangements, and exemptions from them, are a matter for each state and territory,” a spokesman said.
A spokesman for the shipping company BW Epic Kosan said last week that the crew members were “asymptomatic,” and the company was continuing to monitor their status.
New South Wales Health Department tweeted: “New South Wales Health can advise that all of the 15 Port Botany workers who boarded the Inge Kosan were tested, and all have returned negative Covid-19 PCR results.
“All have also reported using Personal Protective Equipment, and no crew members from the Inge Kosan disembarked the ship during its time in Sydney.”
(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Praveen Pramod Tewari. Map by Urvashi Makwana)