Quarantine dilemma looms for Gladstone as ship approaches
A potential quarantine crisis is looming for Gladstone due to there being no facility for the crew of a ship, that must disembark, expected to arrive at the port in days.
The logging ship full of seafarers is due to dock mid-March to be loaded with timber and be fumigated, requiring the entire crew to come ashore.
Over several days the vessel will be pumped with chemicals to kill any vermin in the timber.
Until January, when the more infectious UK COVID strain outbreak occurred at Brisbane’s Hotel Grand Chancellor, Gladstone had a designated quarantine hotel for seafarers.
When the Queensland Government ordered a review into hotel quarantine in response to the outbreak, Gladstone’s Highpoint International Hotel was removed as a quarantine facility.
“Maritime Safety Queensland is still committed to ensuring maritime crew changeovers can occur safely and efficiently,” MSQ advised vessels.
“To this end, careful planning for crew changeovers in Gladstone will be required to ensure the changeover can occur directly to and from the ship.
“Crew who require hotel quarantine for any delay between joining or signing off a ship, will need to be transported directly to a region with a quarantine hotel via privately chartered transport.
“The relevant Regional Harbour Master must endorse any such travel arrangements.”
Currently, seafarers who arrive in Queensland can only quarantine in Brisbane and Cairns, as both cities have international airports.
Under the Maritime Labour Convention Act, crew requiring medical treatment from any vessel has the right to come ashore.
This situation was put to the test only two weeks ago, when the crew of a ship that was not permitted on-board while cargo was being loaded, had to remain ashore for 24 hours.
As Gladstone’s Highpoint International Hotel wasn’t permitted by the government to accommodate the crew, they stayed overnight at Gladstone Hospital.
“To manage the risks associated with coronavirus (COVID-19), Maritime Safety Queensland requires all foreign trading ships to provide information on recent crew member and passenger travel history, and any sign of symptoms,” MSQ states on its website.
MSQ, Queensland Health and the Queensland Police Service are currently working on a possible quarantine site.
Queensland Health has been contacted for comment.