According to health authorities, passengers and staff aboard the first major cruise ship to visit Western Australia in over two years have tested positive for COVID-19.
The Coral Princess, which has the capacity to carry nearly 2,000 passengers, pulled into the north-western town of Broome this morning.
It’s the first major cruise liner to grace Western Australia’s shores after COVID-19 measures banned them from Australian waters in 2020.
A WA Health spokesperson confirmed that passengers and crew aboard the vessel had tested positive for COVID-19.
“WA Health has been advised of passengers and crew testing positive for COVID-19, and this evolving situation is being managed by the vessel operator according to its COVID-19 plan,” the spokesperson said.
“Under the protocols, those onboard vessels who have COVID should isolate for five days.”
A spokesperson for the company operating the vessel, Princess Cruises, said a rise in COVID-19 cases aboard was being “managed effectively” in accordance with national and state protocols.
“Coral Princess is scheduled to depart from Broome this evening (October 24) on her itinerary that includes Geraldton, Fremantle, Busselton, and Albany before returning to Sydney next month,” the spokesperson said.
“It is not our practice to issue case numbers independently of public health authorities and we are adhering to that approach on this occasion.”
President of Carnival Australia, the owner of Princess Cruises, Marguerite Fitzgerald said over the weekend and today “a small number of our 2,000 guests traveling on the Coral Princess tested positive for COVID-19”.
“As a result, these guests will, unfortunately, need to isolate onboard for five days,” Ms. Fitzgerald said.
“For the remaining majority of our guests, they can continue to access our facilities and are able to disembark at the scheduled destinations.
“Importantly, all symptomatic guests are tested, and this has ensured early detection and protection of other guests and our crew.”
The Coral Princess’s arrival was initially welcomed with open arms by the local business community, with disembarking passengers providing a financial boost for the Broome economy.
The Shire of Broome said it anticipated the passengers would contribute $190,000 towards the local economy.
“It is carrying around 1,900 passengers, many of which spent the day in Broome or went on shore excursions to places such as Willie Creek Pearls,” the Shire of Broome said.
Passengers who disembarked today were also seen at Broome’s Chinatown, the Broome Boulevard Shopping Centre, and traveled out to the world-famous Cable Beach.
The Kimberley region had a cautious response to COVID-19 during the early stages of the pandemic, with the region cut off from the rest of Western Australia in early 2020 to protect residents.
With the higher percentage of First Nations people living in the region and the presence of remote Indigenous communities, local health providers have urged people to get vaccinated.