WA bans foreigners disembarking ships

Angie Raphael and Rebecca Le May
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Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan wants police to stop foreigners from leaving cruise ships

The West Australian government has empowered police to ensure foreigners do not disembark cruise ships as the number of coronavirus cases continue to rise.

State health minister Roger Cook said 12 new cases emerged overnight, bringing WA's total to 64.

They are 10 men and two women aged in their 20s through to 60s, and all relate to overseas travel.

Mr Cook clarified comments he made on Thursday, when he announced 17 new cases, that the state was "now starting to see the emergence of community-based transmission".

He said it had since been confirmed 16 were people who had travelled overseas, while the one of the cases had contact with an international traveller.

Four people are in hospital including a woman aged in her 60s who is in a critical but stable condition.

Meanwhile, Premier Mark McGowan has authorised police to stop any non-Australians disembarking cruise ships, saying they can only get off to be privately transported to the airport to leave Australia.

The Pacific Princess is due to arrive at Fremantle on Saturday.

"Australians will be let off and proper process will follow, which involves self-isolation," Mr McGowan told reporters.

"We need to be extra careful that we prevent this virus from coming off a cruise ship."

He has also told Coles and Woolworths to hire more security guards as panic buying continues.

"They need to step up."

Regulation changes allowing trucks to deliver to shops at any hour will be implemented soon and home delivery services will also be allowed to run around the clock if necessary.

Nationals WA leader Mia Davies said reports panicked buyers from Perth were travelling to regional areas to "raid" supermarkets was abhorrent.

"It is engendering anger, panic and fear and is completely unacceptable," she said.

The state budget has been delayed, with Mr McGowan saying "now is not the time for normal budget processes".

"We now need to do everything we can to get through this economic crisis and we will," he said.

"What is absolutely clear is that we are facing this situation for some months. We need to be prepared for around six months."

Mr Cook said cancelling elective surgeries would be a last resort but new operations might not be booked.

Those who have a scheduled operation should expect it to go ahead.

Mr Cook told 6PR radio some patients were cancelling themselves because they were willing to wait.

The state is securing emergency supplies of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers from the Commonwealth amid a national shortage.

Australian Medical Association WA president Andrew Miller said they were facing extreme circumstances and many felt abandoned.

"There are few things more challenging than a truth that our members will die if their basic occupational health and safety requirements as employees are ignored by their employer," Dr Miller said.

He reiterated all measures should be taken to flatten the curve of the spread, including closing borders.