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All at sea as two crew on ship test positive to ‘mystery’ virus strain

Authorities are discussing what to do with the coronavirus infected crew of a cargo ship anchored off the Queensland coast amid fears they could carry a mystery strain.

Oct 22, 2020, updated Oct 22, 2020
The Sofrana Surville, forced to anchor off the Sunshine Coast after being linked to a COVID case in New Zealand, regularly travels the Pacific. (Photo: Facebook, Sofrana ANL)

The Sofrana Surville, forced to anchor off the Sunshine Coast after being linked to a COVID case in New Zealand, regularly travels the Pacific. (Photo: Facebook, Sofrana ANL)

Two crew members aboard the MV Sofrana Surville have been diagnosed with coronavirus, Deputy Premier Steven Miles said on Thursday.

The freighter was blocked from docking in Brisbane after New Zealand authorities alerted Australian officials on Sunday the vessel’s crew could be infected with a new strain of the virus.

It’s currently floating off Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast and all 19 crew members were tested for the virus on Wednesday, Miles said.

“There’s a meeting underway at the moment to determine if they will be evacuated to a hospital on the mainland and which hospital that will be,” he told reporters.

Miles said the two infected crew would be counted in Queensland’s COVID-19 tally if they are transferred to the mainland.

Queensland recorded no new virus cases overnight.

Health officials completed 4760 tests in the 24 hours to Thursday morning.

The state has four active cases and it has been 42 days since the last case was diagnosed in the community.

Maritime Safety Queensland general manager Angus Mitchell previously said the Sofrana remains isolated in a “negative quarantine status”.

This restricts the movement of people on and off the vessel.

He said virus testing was completed by a private pathologist contracted by the ship’s agent.

The Sofrana left New Zealand earlier in the month with fresh crew from the Philippines before stopping at Noumea in New Caledonia.

It then sailed for Brisbane.

New Zealand alerted local authorities the crew could be infected after an engineer who had worked on the Sofrana tested positive.

Victoria has recorded five new cases of coronavirus and no deaths as authorities work to contain an outbreak in Melbourne’s north.

The cases, confirmed by the Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday, bring Melbourne’s 14-day rolling average to 6.1.

-AAP

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