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Ship crew member charged after allegedly swimming to Western Australian port against quarantine rules

Sunday, 10 January 2021 | 21:00

A crew member of a bulk carrier ship has been arrested and charged after allegedly swimming ashore at a Western Australian port with the premier, Mark McGowan, labelling the incident “unusual”.

Authorities allege the 37-year-old Vietnamese national jumped into the water on Saturday two days after the bulk carrier berthed at the Albany port.

Shipping crew are not permitted on to WA land under the emergency management coronavirus quarantine directions.

WA police have said the man was found about 7pm on Saturday at an Albany backpackers lodge before being placed into quarantine and testing negative for Covid. McGowan said the man never posed a risk of spreading the virus in the community.

“This is an unusual case,” the premier told reporters on Sunday, as WA recorded no new virus cases inside or outside hotel quarantine. “The individual in question jumped off the ship into the water and swam ashore. Hard to stop that.”

McGowan rejected suggestions there should be a ban on marine vessels that couldn’t guarantee crew would strictly follow the state’s coronavirus protocols.

“We’ve had thousands, upon thousands, upon thousands of ships coming to Western Australia over the course of the last year while we’ve dealt with Covid,” he said. “This is the only time I’m aware of someone jumping off a ship into the water and swimming ashore. Clearly, that was not something anyone would have predicted.”

The Vietnamese national has been charged with failing to comply with a direction and was due to appear in Perth magistrates court on Sunday.

McGowan also hosed down talk the state could immediately reopen the border to people from Queensland, which recorded no new community cases on the weekend as greater Brisbane continued a three-day lockdown.

Queensland authorities hope a Brisbane quarantine hotel cleaner has not exposed the community to the highly contagious UK variant. McGowan said the weekend result “bodes well for the future” but there were no plans for an immediate end to the hard border.

“I can’t make that commitment,” he said. “Clearly, they’ve had to have a pretty big testing regime. But we aren’t at the point in time to say that we would open up to Queensland. That would be subject to health advice.”

WA has traditionally opted for a 28-day community transmission “buffer period” before re-announcing border reopenings to Victoria, NSW and South Australia.

Queensland is yet to find a locally acquired case stemming from the infected cleaner, but Mr McGowan is keen to ensure there isn’t any undetected virus circulating.

Separately, a Perth man was due to appear in court on Sunday after allegedly abusing hospital staff during his day 11 coronavirus test. The 31-year-old from Wembley Downs had been self-isolating after flying in from Victoria on 29 December.

On Saturday, the man attended a Midland hospital where it is alleged he removed his face mask and became aggressive and abusive towards staff. He was arrested and later charged with failing to comply with a health direction and other offences.
Source: The Guardian

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