Britons to stay quarantined on cruise ship after arriving in Western Australia

Vulnerable people and those in high risk settings such as aged care, Aboriginal communities, detention centres, boarding schools and military barracks will be tested if there are two or more people with respiratory illness.

The MV Artania is believed to be carrying more than 800 passengers and 500 crew, with no Australians on board.

It follows the disastrous management in New South Wales of the Ruby Princess cruise ship, from which at least 133 people have tested positive for Covid-19 and one person has died since it docked and allowed 2,700 passengers to disembark in Sydney on 19 March.

Meanwhile, the Magnifica departed Fremantle on Tuesday after all passengers and crew were kept onboard during refuelling but was told overnight it could not dock in Dubai, so headed back. That ship is now anchored off the WA coast, attempting to find a port.

Australia said on Wednesday it would force passengers on a ship into quarantine on a tourist island and refused entry to another vessel as authorities slapped heavy curbs on people movement to stop the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

The Vasco da Gama is due to arrive in the port city of Fremantle on Friday, bringing with it 950 passengers and 550 crew.

MSC Cruises yesterday said there were no sick passengers onboard the Magnifica and no cases of suspected coronavirus.

"I will not allow what happened in Sydney to happen in WA", Mr McGowan said. The state total is now 205.

The company's managing director, Dean Brazier, told the ABC the ship had been at sea for 13 days straight and it was disappointing passengers would be asked to quarantine for a further 14 days.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said two other cruise ships anchored off Fremantle will not be allowed to disembark.

Australian Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram, speaking in Canberra, said human biosecurity-related matters came under the jurisdiction of health departments of states and territories. There is no reason it needs to stay here. "There are no Australians onboard and no sickness onboard", Mr Dawson said.

It will now be forced to dock at Rottnest Island, a former prison outpost that is now popular with day-trippers, where a makeshift quarantine station was being set up. There were no reports of illness on that ship.

A spokesman for the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "We are doing all we can to help British people on board the Vasco de Gama cruise ship". Test results were expected on Wednesday evening. "There are no circumstances where we will allow passengers or crew to wander the streets in our state".

An online cruise mapper now shows the vessel located just off Yanchep, having done a full circle after pushing off Fremantle for refueling at 8.15pm last night.

But 800 Australians, including 200 West Australians, will be immediately transferred to Rottnest for 14 days of isolation.

Initial reports that the cruise ship was carrying nearly 300 people suffering from respiratory illness were yesterday swiftly rebuffed by the ship operator MSC Cruises, who said the stop was merely to refuel.

Australians are now adjusting to life under extraordinary restrictions meant to stop the spread of the illness that has so far infected about 2,500 people and killed eight nationally, including one passenger from the Ruby Princess cruise, owned by Carnival Corp CCL.N , which docked in Sydney.

MSC has been contacted for comment.