While the government was adamant the ship needed to depart West Australian waters, the federal government was reluctant to intervene.
After negotiating with the Commonwealth, Mr McGowan announced on Friday passengers testing positive for the virus would be taken to hospital for an assessment before being transferred to Joondalup Police Academy, where they would self-isolate for 14 days.
The remainder of the ship’s 800 passengers – none of whom are Australian – would be flown out of Perth to Germany on three chartered flights over the weekend, before the ship departs WA waters.
“We negotiated this outcome so we could guarantee the planes and get the ship on its way away from Australia,” Mr McGowan said.
“Obviously all the strict quarantine measures are put in place whilst they are assessed at hospital.”
His plan to get the German cruise ship passengers out of the state and country as soon as possible have now been thrown into disarray after revelations that more than 70 passengers had reported symptoms.
While most passengers aboard the Artania were due to be transferred to Perth Airport to get on the chartered flights, the government now fears passengers showing COVID-19 symptoms won’t be admitted on the planes and will have to remain on Australian soil.
On Friday night Mr McGowan started crisis talks with the Federal Government and the Australian Defence Force over what to do with the vessel.
As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in WA continues to rise, there are concerns over the ability of the state’s hospital network to cope with the influx of cases.
A spokesman from the German embassy in Canberra said Ambassador Dr Thomas Fitschen and Honorary Consul in Perth Dr Gabriele Maluga were liaising with the federal and WA governments to repatriate the passengers.
” The cruise ship’s tour operator has chartered aircraft for this purpose,” he said.
“Moreover, the tour operator’s agent in Perth is liaising with local authorities and the ship’s captain to handle this issue expeditiously.”
The Artania is one of several ocean liners off the WA coast causing concern for the WA government.
Marta is an award-winning photographer and journalist with a focus on social justice issues and local government.