TWO crew members of the Marshall Islands-flagged box ship Seamax Stratford (IMO 9305491) are in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19.

According to Maritime Safety Queensland, seven new crew members joined the ship at Brisbane on Thursday having earlier flown in from Mumbai on 26 September.

They spent almost a week in quarantine before joining the vessel.

Shortly after going on board, Queensland Health and Maritime Safety Queensland were informed that some of the crew had returned a positive COVID test.

MSQ immediately alerted the terminal, with the ship being locked down, stevedores were withdrawn and the newly joined crew isolated.

“Those who potentially have had close contact with the two infected crew, most notably fellow crew, are taking appropriate precautions,” MSQ stated.

Queensland Health arranged the removal of the two positive cases from the ship via Queensland Ambulance Service last night to further reduce any risks of cross contamination onboard.

Both crewmembers have been taken to hospital.

According to MSQ, the same charter flight used by the two positive cases, was also used to supply crew to the Hong Kong bulker Anacapa Light (IMO 9311311).

“At the time MSQ was alerted to the situation, the Anacapa Light was departing Moreton Bay on its way to Newcastle, NSW,” MSQ general manager Angus Mitchell said.

“The decision [was made] to hold the Anacapa Light at anchorage until a clearer assessment can be made of the risk posed to the crew onboard that ship.”

Mr Mitchell said further assessments were being made regarding the two infected seafarers to determine when they may have been infectious which would inform the decisions made regarding the Anacapa Light.

Contingency plans are being put in place to move Seamax Stratford to anchor in Brisbane in order to be closer to medical support. “MSQ will work to ensure while the vessel is anchored at Brisbane, minimal manning requirements are met,” Mr Mitchell said.

This latest incident comes following the recent confirmation of a number of cases on board the bulker Patricia Oldendorff off Western Australia.

ITF regional inspector Dean Summers said MSQ was to be congratulated, along with the WA health minister, to identify the priorities around CV19 onboard ships – the health and welfare of the crew, community safety and then trade.

“This latest case highlights the importance of the federal government having a coordinated response to a green lane to manage the crew change crisis,” he said.

“Recent examples show that the protocols are working well. However, we need to lock the entire Australian coastline into a consistent IMO/ ITF/ ICS guidelines that the federal government continues to ignore.”

Mr Summers said the federal government needed to coordinate with labour supply neighbours, The Philippines and India, to ensure seafarers strictly isolated for the 14 days before getting on chartered flights.