TWO COVID-infected patients were this morning transferred from the cargo ship Dhun to Mackay Marina.

Maritime Safety Queensland general manager Angus Mitchell said the two seafarers who tested positive on the ship off Hay Point were removed from the vessel via Queensland Police Service launch.

He said the pair were being transferred to a hospital in the Metro North area.

It's understood the two men came down the gangway to meet the Water Police boat about 10am.

Queensland Ambulance Service, waiting at the marina, then took the two men to Mackay Airport where they boarded a charter plane.

 

Queensland Ambulance and Queensland Police service escort two COVID-positive crew members from the cargo ship Dhun, anchored off Hay Point, to Mackay Airport for a flight south. They will be treated at medical facilities in south-east Queensland. Picture: Zizi Averill
Queensland Ambulance and Queensland Police service escort two COVID-positive crew members from the cargo ship Dhun, anchored off Hay Point, to Mackay Airport for a flight south. They will be treated at medical facilities in south-east Queensland. Picture: Zizi Averill

Everyone involved in the operation was wearing Personal Protective Equipment to shield themselves from the virus.

After the ambulance left the marina, police officers on the Damian Leeding police boat were seen hosing down the ship and then removing their PPE.

 

Officers aboard the Water Police boat Damian Leeding donned in Personal Protective Equipment after helping transport two ship crew members with COVID-positive patients. Picture: Tara Miko
Officers aboard the Water Police boat Damian Leeding donned in Personal Protective Equipment after helping transport two ship crew members with COVID-positive patients. Picture: Tara Miko

 

A QAS officer was waiting at the end of a jetty to take away the hazardous material.

After hand signals from one of the officers, she walked toward the boat and collected the items in a yellow hazard bag and left in a QAS vehicle.

 

A Queensland Ambulance Service officer carries hazardous waste from the Water Police boat Damian Leeding after two COVID-positive patients came ashore off the cargo ship Dhun. Picture: Rae Wilson
A Queensland Ambulance Service officer carries hazardous waste from the Water Police boat Damian Leeding after two COVID-positive patients came ashore off the cargo ship Dhun. Picture: Rae Wilson

An ambulance carrying the two COVID patients arrived at the airport about 11am.

 

Queensland Ambulance and Queensland Police service escort two COVID-positive crew members from the cargo ship Dhun, anchored off Hay Point, to Mackay Airport for a flight south. They will be treated at medical facilities in south-east Queensland. Picture: Zizi Averill
Queensland Ambulance and Queensland Police service escort two COVID-positive crew members from the cargo ship Dhun, anchored off Hay Point, to Mackay Airport for a flight south. They will be treated at medical facilities in south-east Queensland. Picture: Zizi Averill

 

The pilot and other crew escorting the men were seen putting on PPE while the plane was refuelling.

Everyone getting on the plane had a full PPE kit before the Dhun's crew members exited the ambulance and boarded the plane.

 

Queensland Ambulance and Queensland Police service escort two COVID-positive crew members from the cargo ship Dhun, anchored off Hay Point, to Mackay Airport for a flight south. They will be treated at medical facilities in south-east Queensland. Picture: Zizi Averill
Queensland Ambulance and Queensland Police service escort two COVID-positive crew members from the cargo ship Dhun, anchored off Hay Point, to Mackay Airport for a flight south. They will be treated at medical facilities in south-east Queensland. Picture: Zizi Averill

 

The plane took off about 12.20pm for Brisbane but appears to have been diverted mid-flight to the Sunshine Coast.

Mayor Greg Williamson said the Daily Mercury's observations showed "a very smooth rapid response plan in action".

"This is the sort of thing Mackay Hospital and Health Services, Queensland Police, Local Disaster Management Group and QAS do so well," he said.

 

Queensland Ambulance and Queensland Police service escort two COVID-positive crew members from the cargo ship Dhun, anchored off Hay Point, to Mackay Airport for a flight south. They will be treated at medical facilities in south-east Queensland. Picture: Zizi Averill
Queensland Ambulance and Queensland Police service escort two COVID-positive crew members from the cargo ship Dhun, anchored off Hay Point, to Mackay Airport for a flight south. They will be treated at medical facilities in south-east Queensland. Picture: Zizi Averill

 

"They're all part of the rapid response plan and to see it work like that is brilliant and I couldn't be more proud.

"Everyone plays a part in that chain so it's just fantastic to see it working so well.

"No expense has been spared by the ship's agents. They were prepared to charter a helicopter but the ability to ensure correct PPE and hygiene standards on a helicopter couldn't be met.

Queensland Ambulance and Queensland Police service escort two COVID-positive crew members from the cargo ship Dhun, anchored off Hay Point, to Mackay Airport for a flight south. They will be treated at medical facilities in south-east Queensland. Picture: Zizi Averill
Queensland Ambulance and Queensland Police service escort two COVID-positive crew members from the cargo ship Dhun, anchored off Hay Point, to Mackay Airport for a flight south. They will be treated at medical facilities in south-east Queensland. Picture: Zizi Averill

"Also their hatch covers where a helicopter lands on the vessel can only take 4.5 tonnes, our helicopters weigh 5.5 tonnes.

"The rest of the crew will remain out there and we do another test in 10 days to see if there's any more developments then they'll make a call after 10 days."

 

Queensland Ambulance and Queensland Police service escort two COVID-positive crew members from the cargo ship Dhun, anchored off Hay Point, to Mackay Airport for a flight south. They will be treated at medical facilities in south-east Queensland. Picture: Zizi Averill
Queensland Ambulance and Queensland Police service escort two COVID-positive crew members from the cargo ship Dhun, anchored off Hay Point, to Mackay Airport for a flight south. They will be treated at medical facilities in south-east Queensland. Picture: Zizi Averill

Mackay Airport general manager Garry Porter said it was a "smooth operation" that followed their airport's standard procedure for medical transfers.  

Mr Porter said airport staff assisted the Queensland Health and Queensland Police Service operation.  

"They contacted us to let us know what they were up to," Mr Porter said.  

"All we were doing was escorting them."  

Despite the full protective PPE covering the two patients, doctors and flight crew, Mr Porter said the transfer was treated as a "routine medical transfer" by the airport.  

Airport staff and contractors did not wear PPE during the medical transfer.  

Mr Porter said as part of the airport's COVID safe plan his staff were not in direct contact with the patients or medical workers.  

He said staff were aware of the transfer, but passengers on board a commercial flight which disembarked within 100m from the medical operation were not informed of the two COVID-19 patients.  

Mr Porter said the COVID-19 patients were transferred through the airport's non-passenger system, so there was no reason to alert other passengers on different flights.

The Dhun was the third ship in five days to arrive off the Mackay region coastline with possible COVID cases.

The Globe Electra, now off Townsville, also had two positive patients and the remaining crew have been retested this week.

The crew aboard the Killian Olendorf all tested negative and were expected to pull up to Hay Point port today.



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