Sydney port workers await COVID-19 results after boarding ship with positive crew members -

Sydney port workers await COVID-19 results after boarding ship with positive crew members


A dozen crew members on a ship that docked in Sydney have tested positive for coronavirus, forcing local port workers to get tested and isolate.

Fifteen Port Botany workers boarded the vessel when it was docked for 24 hours between March 31 and April 1 but none of the crew disembarked.

A NSW Health spokesperson said the Inge Kosan, a bulk liquids ship, travelled from Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea before leaving Sydney to go to Vanuatu.

They said authorities in Vanuatu confirmed 12 of the 13 crew members, including one man who died at sea, tested positive for COVID-19.

The dead mariner’s body washed up on a beach near Port Vila on April 11. The cause of death is yet to be confirmed.

A spokesperson for shipping company BW Epic Kosan (BWEK) said the COVID-positive crew members were all currently asymptomatic and the crew member who tested negative was being isolated.

“BWEK continues to closely monitor their health status,” the spokesperson said.

The shipping company said it “continues to provide support to the family member of our deceased colleague”.

“We have requested a copy of the autopsy report to understand what the cause of death is (which may bring some closure to the bereaved) but we have yet to receive the report.”

Vanuatu’s main island entered a three-day lockdown after the dead Filipino man tested positive.

Of the 15 Sydney workers who boarded the vessel to conduct “routine port activities”, 13 have returned negative results.

The remaining test results are expected to be returned today.

The Inge Kosan departed Vanuatu on April 21, however, the BWEK spokesperson said the vessel’s next port of call was yet to be determined.

None of the infected crew members disembarked the ship in Sydney.(

Supplied

)

NSW Health said those who boarded the vessel adhered to COVID-19-safe procedures.

“Those workers interviewed to date have confirmed they were wearing personal protective equipment,” the spokesperson said.

NSW Health said all 15 Port Botany workers who boarded the vessel had been tested and so far 13 had returned negative results.

A spokesperson said several of them had received at least one COVID-19 vaccination, under the rollout which started for seaport workers in March.

“This week, NSW Health also extended invitations to the families of seaport workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, adding further protection for these crucial workers,” the spokesperson said.

Cranes towering over storage containers at Port Botany.
The ship docked in Sydney last month.(

ABC News: Brendan Esposito

)

The Inge Kosan had been in Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea where there has been a surge in coronavirus cases.

By the end of March, positive cases had doubled in a week with the national total number of cases now exceeding 10,000.

This week the Maritime Union asked National Cabinet to urgently implement rapid testing of international seafarers at Australian ports. 

A spokesman said ensuring that all international arrivals are tested will improve biosecurity.

“This latest incident vindicated the union’s repeated warnings that the current biosecurity system, which relies on a ship self-declaring illness onboard before COVID testing is undertaken, is fundamentally flawed,” the spokesman said.

The warning comes after a number of ships in Australian waters, including a vessel off the coast in Western Australia, have had COVID-19 positive crew members on board.



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