17 October 2020

COVID-19 update - 17 October 2020

The Department of Health has reported two new cases of COVID-19 in Western Australia overnight. Both are in hotel quarantine.

The State total of confirmed COVID-19 cases now stands at 711.

There are 19 active cases and 683 people have recovered from the virus in WA.

The Key Integrity vessel is alongside at Geraldton Port and a nurse in full PPE has boarded and obtained a swab from the previously symptomatic crew member.

The rapid test has returned a positive result. The crew member remains aboard the vessel in their cabin and no-one will be disembarked unless they require medical attention. Further planning will now be undertaken with the shipping agent and port authorities on its management. Only the nurse and pilot boarded the vessel in Geraldton in full PPE. There is no risk to the Geraldton community.

Today, the Department can also confirm a positive case on the AL Messilah, which is docked in Fremantle. This case was disembarked to seek medical treatment for a non-COVID-19 condition yesterday and was tested on presentation as a precaution, which came back positive. This case will be counted in tomorrow’s numbers.

This person was taken via charter bus to Fiona Stanley Hospital before being discharged to a State-run quarantine hotel. PPE was used during transfer and treatment. An added complexity to this situation is that crew from three other vessels – also requiring medical treatment – were transported in the same charter bus to hospital. While all wore PPE, and the risk to them is low, public health is interviewing these crew as a precaution, given there was some interaction with a confirmed case.

There remains no risk to members of the public or to hospital staff. Hospital staff are trained in infection prevention and control and treat any maritime crew requiring medical attention as a suspect case – as a precaution. Crew attending hospitals are treated away from general members of the public, and appropriate PPE is used.

The pilot who boarded the AL Messilah vessel to bring it in is today isolating at home and will remain there until interviewed and cleared by the public health team. The public health team is also investigating if any inspection crew boarded the vessel. If so, these people will be interviewed and isolated until cleared. The loading of the vessel has been delayed – no livestock is onboard.

The Department of Health is now working with Fremantle Ports and the shipping agent regarding management of the vessels.

The Department of Health would like to reassure the community that it has now successfully managed four vessel outbreaks – Artania, AL Kuwait, Patricia Oldendorff and Vega Dream. The community has remained safe during each of these operations, with no risk to public health. The same processes will be used for the Key Integrity and AL Messilah, as well as any future vessel outbreak.

The community should also be aware that no port in Western Australia is allowing shore-leave for any international maritime crew. This means that no-one can disembark a vessel – expect for medical treatment – whereby appropriate safety procedures are put in place. This is an extra layer of border security in place to protect the Western Australian community.

Yesterday 889 people presented to WA COVID-19 clinics – 877 were assessed and swabbed.

There have been 458,327 COVID-19 tests performed in WA. Of those tested, 78,187 were from regional WA.

Visit WA Health’s HealthyWA website for the latest information on COVID-19. 

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