More than 2,000 passengers and crew are temporarily locked down on a ship at a Melbourne dock while they undergo coronavirus screenings.
The Golden Princess has docked at Station Pier at Port Melbourne, but disembarkation has been delayed until the ship receives clearance from Victorian health authorities.
“The advice that I have is that there are a number of passengers who are unwell,” Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told reporters.
“It’s not believed that it is COVID-19 related, that is the medical advice that I have received.”
Ms Mikakos stressed that if a test comes back positive, the normal contact-tracing procedures will be done.
“They will be treated in the exact same way as if they’ve arrived from an international aeroplane,” Ms Mikakos said.
“They will be required to engage in 14 days of quarantine and if is anyone is in fact positive, they will be assessed whether they require medical treatment – they will be moved to a hospital if that’s required.”
A sign announcing the delay sits on the pier.
The 2210 passengers left Melbourne on March 10 on a scheduled 13-night cruise to New Zealand.
But their trip was cut short when Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a ban on cruise ships from foreign ports arriving in Australia.
Golden Princess said their ship arrived in Melbourne on Thursday in accordance with the Australian Government’s arrangements for cruise ships to return and disembark guests at the ports where the cruises began.
“Victoria Health wants guests to remain on the ship until the screening has been completed, and the results are known,” a statement from Golden Princess says.
“We have informed guests in an announcement on board that we realise this development is disappointing and unexpected but we will support health authorities because, like us, they are leaving nothing to chance when it comes to protecting public health.”
These screenings could take several hours, in which only the guests being screened will be expected to stay in their cabins.
Crew from Southern Cross Portering, meanwhile, wait for instructions outside the ship, with “no clue of what they have to do” one staffer who did not want to be named told AAP.
Some passengers have been seen walking around the ship using their phones.
Several other Princess cruise liners have been affected by the coronavirus, including Diamond Princess which was locked down in Japan and the Grand Princess in the US.