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Seven Covid-19 Cases Come From A Ship Off Australian Coast

The Northeastern Australian state is assessing if the infected crew of a gas tanker can be treated on board.

BRISBANE, Australia — Seven new Covid-19 cases reported in the north-eastern Australian state of Queensland have come from a gas tanker off the Sunshine Coast.

The state recorded nine cases overnight, with the other two detected in hotel quarantine.

“We’ve been working with (the ship’s crew) for some time as they stream down from the state’s north,” Deputy Premier Steven Miles said on April 28.

More cases may come from the British-flagged Inge Kosan in the coming days and Miles said the government was deciding whether patients would be treated onboard or taken ashore.

Queensland Health is very good at this, and they work with Maritime Safety Queensland and with the ship to ensure testing occurs and that health services are provided. They’ll be making decisions about where best to provide those health services,” Miles said.

Consideration is being given to whether infected patients can be quarantined on the vessel to reduce risk to the rest of the crew. Miles said health care had been provided aboard ships in similar cases.

It comes as an audit investigating the fitness testing of personal protective equipment in the state’s hospitals “revealed widespread inconsistencies and deficiencies”, as per the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union.

“The data has demonstrated what the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union has long feared, that there are huge inconsistencies in the PPE fit testing programs across our public health system,” Secretary Beth Mohle said.

“Now that the problems have been identified, we are keen to focus on fixing the problems by working with Queensland Health to ensure that nurses working with Covid-19 positive patients and others suspected of having the virus are kept safe and well.”

A requirement for all staff working with Covid-19 patients to be fit-tested and fit-checked at the start of each shift, flagged by the government, was also welcomed by Mohle.

The Inge Kosan is seen anchored off the coast of the Sunshine Coast on April 27, 2021. (Darren England/AAP Image)

“We welcome the opportunity to work with all Health and Human Services to develop action plans to keep staff and Queenslanders safe,” Mohle said in a statement.

“This is a tough time now, over 12 months into the pandemic. So many are exhausted and continue to deal with uncertainty and heavy workloads. This is a time when mistakes can be made, so we must all focus on implementing appropriate strategies to mitigate this high risk.”

As of May 10, all staff working with Covid-19 positive patients must be fully vaccinated and PPE checked, Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.

“(These) are the steps we’ve taken as a consequence of the audit,” she said on April 27.

“The majority of hospitals are all doing the right thing and have been doing this, but we know we can do better.”

(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Ojaswin Kathuria. Map by Urvashi Makwana.)