Infected crew on cargo ship after NZ alert

Authorities are working out what to do with the Covid-19 infected crew of a cargo ship off the Queensland coast amid fears they could carry a mystery strain.

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 the vessel's crew could be infected with a new strain of the virus.

It' is currently anchored off Mooloolaba, on the Sunshine Coast, with all 19 crew members tested for the virus on Wednesday.

"There's a meeting under way at the moment to determine if they will be evacuated to a hospital on the mainland and which hospital that will be," Dr Miles told reporters.

He said the New Zealand Government asked Queensland Health to undertake genomic sequencing of the suspected new virus strain, which could take up to a week to complete.

"The initial tests only provide a positive or negative result," Dr Miles said.

He said the two infected crew would be counted in Queensland's Covid-19 tally if they were transferred to the mainland.

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.

Mr Mitchell 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.

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.

Asked about the potential for Queensland's border reopening to NSW at the end of the month, Dr Miles said the situation remained concerning, with four cases of unlinked transmission in the past week.

"That's twice what they had in the seven days before that. So there is still live outbreaks there," he said.

"There are still cases they are unable to link to existing clusters."





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