Seafarer charged after swimming ashore

Callum Godde
·3-min read

A crew member of a bulk carrier ship has been captured and charged after allegedly swimming ashore at a WA port, with Premier Mark McGowan labelling the incident "unusual".

It is alleged the 37-year-old Vietnamese national jumped into the water on Saturday, two days after the bulk carrier berthed at the Albany Port.

Shipping crew are not permitted onto WA land under the emergency management quarantine directions.

The man was found by police shortly before 7pm on Saturday at an Albany backpackers lodge before being placed into quarantine and testing negative for COVID-19.

Mr McGowan said the man was never a risk of spreading COVID-19 into the community.

"This is an unusual case," he told reporters on Sunday, as WA recorded no new virus cases inside or outside hotel quarantine.

"The individual in question jumped off the ship into the water and swam ashore.

"Hard to stop that."

Mr McGowan rebuffed the need for a ban on marine vessels that couldn't guarantee crew would strictly follow the state's coronavirus protocols.

"We've had thousands, upon thousands, upon thousands of ships coming to Western Australia over the course of the last year whilst we've dealt with COVID," he said.

"This is the only time I'm aware of, of someone jumping off a ship into the water and swimming ashore.

"Clearly, that was not something anyone would have predicted."

The Vietnamese national has been charged with failing to comply with a direction and was due to appear in Perth Magistrates Court on Sunday.

It comes as Mr McGowan hosed down the potential for an immediate reopening of the Queensland border, as Greater Brisbane entered its second day of a brief lockdown.

There were no new cases reported in Queensland on Sunday, further raising hopes a Brisbane quarantine hotel cleaner has not exposed the community to the highly contagious UK variant.

Mr McGowan says the result "bodes well for the future", but there are no plans for an immediate end to the hard border.

"I can't make that commitment," he said.

"Clearly, they've had to be pretty big testing regime

"But we aren't at the point in time to say that we would open up to Queensland. That would be subject to health advice."

WA has traditionally opted for a 28-day community transmission "buffer period" before re-announcing border reopenings to Victoria, NSW and South Australia.

Queensland is yet to find a locally acquired case stemming from the infected cleaner, but Mr McGowan is nonetheless keen to ensure there isn't any undetected virus circulating.

"COVID re-erupts," he said.

"You think a state has it under control and turns out they don't. We're just very cautious."

Meanwhile, a Perth man was also to appear in court on Sunday after allegedly abusing hospital staff during his day-11 coronavirus test.

The 31-year-old from Wembley Downs had been self-isolating after flying in from Victoria on December 29.

On Saturday, the man attended a Midland hospital where it is alleged he removed his face mask, and became aggressive and abusive towards staff.

He was arrested and later charged with failing to comply with a health direction and other offences.