The Western Australia coastal town of Broome is facing a huge tourism blackout after a number of cruise ships scheduled to dock in the town were cancelled in the wake of fears the coronavirus could spread to remote areas.
Late on Monday, a spokesperson for the West Australian government announced four cruise ships would no longer be docking in Broome, 2055km north of Perth, after cruise ships companies cancelled their scheduled trips to the Kimberley town.
Although one cruise ship, the True North - which left the Fremantle Port on March 5- did dock in Broome on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the cruise ship company told NITV News no passengers disembarked in thew town.
"The True North has recently completed a coastal voyage that departed in Fremantle. Guests disembarked in Dampier after 10 nights onboard," a spokesperson said.
The spokesperson pointed out that currently there is no coronavirus test requirements for persons completing coastal voyages around Australia.
A spokesperson for the State Government said it was up to the shipmaster to declare any sicknesses onboard prior to any cruise ships docking in West Australian ports.
"If there is a declaration, qualified medical staff will be brought in to screen passengers as necessary," a spokesperson said.
Last year, a total of 38 vessels docked at the Broome Port, including eight big cruise liners and 30 smaller ships.
No further cruise ships are scheduled to arrive in Broome until May this year
Yawuru man and local tourism operator Bart Pigram said the town was struggling in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s not the virus itself, it’s the risk management that’s been put in place with the cancellations," he told NITV News on Monday.
"There’s a whole month now that we have no cruise ships coming in, but for community sake I think these measures have to be put in place to protect ourselves,” said Mr Pigram.
So far there have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases in regional WA, but on Monday, the state had its highest daily spike with 10 new confirmed cases announced by the state’s health minister, with another 3 cases confirmed on Tuesday.
The announcement took WA's total of confirmed cases to 31, as of Tuesday night.
On Tuesday, the WA boss for the Australian Medical Association Andrew Miller encouraged regional towns to impose strict travel restriction bans.
As of Tuesday afternoon, only people who have recently travelled from overseas or have been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case and experienced symptoms within 14 days are advised to be tested.