A livestock carrier, Al-Kuwait has raised up the political temperature in Australia. The coronavirus-laden ship berthed on May 22 in Fremantle.
The livestock carrier’s 6 crew members were found positive. Another 27 crew members have been taken to a Perth hotel to enter quarantine as a precaution along with their infected shipmates who are already there in isolation. The remaining 15 crew members are staying onboard.
The whole matter of Al-Kuwait became the flash point of Australia’s politics when WA Premier Mark McGowan, on Tuesday (May 26), blamed the federal government for allowing the ship to dock, claiming that “he never knew about the ship and Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud insisted there was no concern for the crew.”
However, on Wednesday (May 27), Mr Littleproud released an email chain sent from the federal Department of Agriculture to the WA health department on Friday, detailing reports received from the ship about three crew with temperatures – three days before Mr McGowan said the state found out.
The Premier confirmed the receipt of an email from the federal Dept. of Agriculture. “Clearly yesterday, I did not have the information that I have now, There have clearly been some errors made all around. We can and must do better, and we will.” he said.
Sequence of Events which led to the whole fiasco:
- May 7: Al Kuwait livestock vessel departs United Arab Emirates en route to Fremantle.
- May 20: Ship submits a pre-arrival report to the Federal Department of Agriculture noting three crew members have high temperatures.
- May 22: Ship submits a further pre-arrival report stating one crew member has a high temperature, and three other crew members have shown similar symptoms in the past 15 days.
- May 22: Permission granted to the ship for berthing. A Fremantle Port Authority pilot boards the ship wearing PPE to dock her.
- May 22: The federal Department of Agriculture informs the WA Health Department about the sick crew onboard, as per revealed e-mails by Agriculture Minister Littleproud.
- May 24: The Fremantle Port Authority hears rumours about the sick crew on board the ship. State officials instruct the crew not to disembark.
- May 25: WA Department of Health officials boarded the ship and test seven crew members for coronavirus.
- May 26: Six crew members return positive results for COVID-19 and are taken off the ship to be quarantined at a Perth hotel.
Mr McGowan said the state and federal governments were working “cooperatively” and “constructively” on a solution for the Al Kuwait.
“That may include flying in a new crew, subject to strict quarantine, cleaning the ship and getting the ship underway as soon as possible,” he said.