A 37-year-old man who sparked a COVID-19 alert in Western Australia after he allegedly jumped off a bulk carrier ship in Albany, on the state’s south coast, has been arrested in a local backpackers hostel and charged with breaching quarantine orders.
Key points:A 37-year-old man has been charged with breaching quarantine directionsIt is alleged the man jumped off a ship berthed in Albany and swam to shoreThe Vietnamese national has returned a negative COVID-19 test
WA Police issued an alert at about 6:30pm on Saturday asking for the public’s help to find the crew member — a Vietnamese national who had not been seen for more than 12 hours.
Police allege the man jumped off the Sakizaya Champion — which had berthed in Albany on Friday — and swam to shore, making his way to a local hostel where he was found at about 7:00pm on Saturday.
The man was given a health risk assessment and a rapid test for COVID-19, which returned a negative result.
WA Premier Mark McGowan said it was an “unusual case”, considering thousands of ships had entered WA during the COVID-19 pandemic without similar breaches.
He noted it was not “something anyone would have predicted” and it would be “hard to stop”.
“This is the only time I’m aware of, of someone jumping off a ship into the water and swimming ashore,” Mr McGowan said.
“He was captured very quickly, he’s tested negative, he’s in quarantine, he’s in custody, there’s been no danger of COVID spreading from this person.”
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The Vietnamese national has been charged with failing to comply with emergency management quarantine directions.
He made a brief appearance in Perth Magistrates Court via videolink today and will next appear in court on Monday.
Queensland border likely to remain closed beyond a month: Premier
On the issue of WA’s newly reimposed hard border with Queensland, Mr McGowan said he was “very pleased” the state was “doing so well”, but said he could not commit to any decision on the border pending health advice.
Queensland recorded no new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours and Greater Brisbane is due to come out of lockdown on Monday night.
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Mr McGowan said WA generally required a buffer period of 28 days with zero community transmission before allowing interstate travel, but he indicated he would request urgent advice from the Chief Medical Officer about the Queensland situation.
“COVID re-erupts … you think a state has it under control and it turns out they don’t,” the Premier said.
“It turns out there’s an escape from a quarantine centre, or someone on a flight or something of that nature, which means you have to lock down again.
“We are very cautious about opening borders because experience has shown once you open a border then it starts again, and there’s more cases, and you have to close the border again.”
Households urged to source own mask supply
The Premier also reiterated previous calls for West Australians to stock up on face masks, following the detection of the highly transmissible UK strain of COVID-19 in Australia.
Mr McGowan said WA had a large stockpile of masks, but stated that should not detract from the “responsibility of households just to get a supply for themselves”.
“We’ve got millions of reusable and disposable masks available should we need them,” he said.
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Yesterday, the Australian Medical Association and the Australian Nursing Federation called for the State Government to supply free masks to the public, but Mr McGowan said he thought the Government’s current supply system was “right”.
“People can purchase masks to take family responsibility, personal responsibility, should anything happen,” Mr McGowan said.
“I suspect most people already have.”
WA recorded no new COVID-19 cases overnight, leaving the state’s total case number unchanged at 875.
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