New WA virus case as sheep await export

Bad weather in WA continues to delay a shipment of about 35,000 sheep bound for the Middle East

One new coronavirus case has been recorded in Western Australia, while bad weather continues to delay a shipment of about 35,000 sheep bound for the Middle East.

A returned overseas traveller who is now in hotel quarantine tested positive on Thursday, leaving WA with two active cases.

The Al Kuwait livestock vessel, which arrived in Fremantle on May 22, was initially held up after more than 20 crew contracted COVID-19 following a voyage from the United Arab Emirates.

The outbreak meant the ship could not leave WA before the northern summer live export ban began on June 1.

A required exemption has since been granted, with strict conditions forcing the number of sheep onboard to be slashed from the originally planned 56,000.

Stormy weather delayed the vessel from leaving as scheduled on Wednesday.

The vessel finally left Fremantle Port on Thursday morning but has remained anchored off the coast and will not leave until the weather improves.

On Tuesday, Animals Australia lost its Federal Court bid to stop the export from happening, while Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie had a similar federal parliament motion rejected.

The export ban was introduced this year, prompted by thousands of sheep dying from heat stress aboard the Awassi Express in 2017.

WA's coronavirus tally stands at 603 cases.

Authorities this week began a long-awaited program of testing for asymptomatic children at 40 schools across the state.

The scheme was held up for several weeks while the government met the required ethics approvals.

No positive tests have been recorded among more than 1500 swabs at 13 schools, the Telethon Kids Institute said on Thursday.