Kuwaiti livestock ship held off Australia due to coronavirus outbreak

The ship left the Middle East on May 7 and docked near the city of Perth on May 22 after telling the Australian immigration and agriculture authorities that some crew members had raised temperatures. (File/Shutterstock)
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Updated 26 May 2020

Kuwaiti livestock ship held off Australia due to coronavirus outbreak

  • Six crew later tested positive for the coronavirus and were taken to hotels on land for quarantine
  • The Al Kuwait’s last stop before Australia was Hamad Port in Qatar, according to maritime records posted online

SYDNEY: A Kuwaiti livestock ship was being held off Australia’s west coast after six crew members tested positive for COVID-19, authorities said on Tuesday, heightening concerns over how arrivals by sea are handled.
The Al Kuwait left the Middle East on May 7 and docked near the city of Perth on May 22 after telling the Australian immigration and agriculture authorities that some crew members had raised temperatures, Western Australia state premier Mark McGowan said.
Six crew later tested positive for the new coronavirus and were taken to hotels on land for quarantine while the state police commissioner asked the Australian Border Force and Department of Agriculture why the ship was allowed to dock.
“Clearly this is not good,” McGowan told reporters in a televised news conference.
“We want to get to a resolution as soon as possible so that the ship is in a position to leave the port.”
Border Force and the Department of Agriculture were not immediately available for comment.
The Al Kuwait’s last stop before Australia was Hamad Port in Qatar, according to maritime records posted online.
The ship expects to pick up a cargo of thousands of sheep, and transport them to the Middle East.
Managing boat arrivals became a sore point for Australia after a cruise ship unloaded hundreds of passengers infected with COVID-19 in Sydney in March. Nearly a quarter of Australia’s 102 COVID-19 deaths have been linked to the Ruby Princess, and the ship became the country’s biggest single source of infection.
Al Kuwait’s owner, the Kuwait Livestock Transport and Trading Co, directed Reuters to Australian Livestock Exporters’​ Council CEO Mark Harvey Sutton who declined to comment on the communications between government agencies and the ship.
“All the protocols and processes have been followed,” Sutton said by telephone.
He added that the exporter, Rural Export & Trading (WA), had planned to carry 56,000 sheep to the Middle East. The sheep were being kept held in a feedlot. Sutton said he did not know what would happen if the ship’s departure was delayed until after May 31, when a moratorium on live exports to the Middle East begin.


First direct commercial flight from Israel lands in Bahrain

Updated 8 min 32 sec ago

First direct commercial flight from Israel lands in Bahrain

  • Flight data showed an Israir Airlines Airbus A320 landed at Bahrain International Airport after a nearly three-hour flight from Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion
  • The flight was made without ceremony, in sharp contrast to the first El Al flight from Israel to the United Arab Emirates at the end of August

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: The first known direct commercial flight between Israel and Bahrain landed Wednesday in the island kingdom, just a week after it signed a deal alongside the United Arab Emirates to normalize relations.
Flight data showed an Israir Airlines Airbus A320 landed at Bahrain International Airport after a nearly three-hour flight from Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport.
There was no immediate acknowledgement of the flight from the Israeli government, though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday spoke by telephone to Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa. Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment.
Bahrain’s state-run media did not immediately acknowledge the flight. Officials on the island off the coast of Saudi Arabia did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The US Embassy in Manama similarly did not respond to a request for comment.
The flight was made without ceremony, in sharp contrast to the first El Al flight from Israel to the United Arab Emirates at the end of August. That plane carried US and Israeli officials, including President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as media.
The flight Wednesday comes as Israel has gone back into a lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic. In Bahrain, civil society groups have criticized the move to normalize relations with Israel, saying that recognition should come only after Palestinians obtain their own independent state.
Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet and a British naval base.
Bahrain and the UAE signed normalization agreements Sept. 15 with Israel at the White House, part of a US diplomatic push as Trump seeks re-election.
The UAE and Israel have moved quickly to explore commercial ties after their normalization deal, bringing to light a relationship previously kept quiet.
Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa previously had been quoted as saying he believed Arab countries should drop their boycott of Israel.