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Port Darwin Quarantines Workers After Livestock Carrier COVID Case

crew member on livestock carrier tests positive for COVID-19
Diamantina docked in Fremantle in 2018 - Bahnfrend photo (Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA4)

Published Dec 29, 2020 6:30 PM by The Maritime Executive

Despite increased precautions and protocols, ports are still challenged to control the spread of the COVID-19 from arriving ships. In the latest example, port employees in Darwin, Australia have been placed in quarantine after a potential exposure to the virus.

Heath authorities for the Northern Territory in Australia reported that a 25-year-old crew member on board a livestock carrier named the Diamantina had tested positive for the virus after the ship arrived on the evening of December 27 from Indonesia. The 2,960 DWT livestock carrier registered in Singapore was in the port to load cattle for export.

The crew member was tested on board the vessel upon arrival into Darwin, according to the health authorities and was moved to a shoreside hospital after testing positive. Following the protocols, he did not leave the ship prior to being admitted to the hospital.

While the individual did not come in direct contact with residents of Darwin, and the risk is low to the general public, Health Minister Natasha Fyles told the media that all precautions were being taken. All of the crew members aboard the ship are being treated as close contacts potentially exposed to the virus. While none of the other crew members have symptoms of the virus, the entire crew has been placed in a mandatory 14-day quarantine with the majority moved to a facility on shore. A skeleton crew remains aboard the Diamantina and they will self-quarantine and agreed to undergo additional testing.

As a further precaution, while port employees are reported to have been wearing PPE while handling the docking, they have also been placed in isolation. This includes the pilot who boarded the ship to assist with the docking as well as other port workers who came in contact with the ship during the docking.

With only 75 cases of the virus within the Northern Territory, the officials stressed that this was a precaution to prevent further introduction of COVID-19 into the region.