Coronavirus: Cruise passengers quarantined with quokkas

Tourists take pictures of a quokka on Rottnest Island
Image caption,
It is common to see tourists on Rottnest Island get up close to the animal

Hundreds of cruise ship passengers are to be placed in coronavirus quarantine on an island home to one of Australia's cutest marsupials - the fluffy quokka.

Some 800 Australians on board the Vasco de Gama will spend 14 days on Rottnest Island off the west coast.

They were due to arrive in Perth on Friday, but officials have effectively banned cruise ships from docking there.

This follows the Ruby Princess unloading 2,700 passengers in Sydney, more than 130 of whom have coronavirus.

The cheerful-looking quokka is a small marsupial native to a small corner of south-western Australia and considered endangered.

They are chiefly found on Rottnest Island where they have no predators, and regularly feature in selfies with sightseers - so much so there have been warnings too much attention could be a bad thing..

Rottnest is a holiday hotspot, also famous for its sandy beaches and clear blue water.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Thousands of passengers left the Ruby Princess, unaware of a Covid-19 outbreak on board

But foreign passengers and crew would have to stay on board until they can be flown out directly, said Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan.

The state has also blocked two other cruise ships from docking.

The Magnifica and Artana have both reported unwell passengers on board. There are no Australians on board those vessels, ABC says.

All visitors have been ordered off the island to prepare it as a quarantine site.

The Ruby Princess is the biggest single source of infections in Australia and has caused much anger. One passenger died in hospital on Tuesday.

Australia has confirmed more than 2,400 coronavirus cases and and on Wednesday said a ninth person had died in the outbreak.

The 68-year-old man from Queensland had been on another cruise ship - Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas - which docked in Sydney on 18 March.

Media caption,
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