Second person from 'uncooperative' superyacht moored in Cairns tests positive for coronavirus

A second person who was on board a luxury superyacht that sailed from the Maldives to Cairns has tested positive for coronavirus.

Queensland police initially launched an investigation after a female crew member of the superyacht tested positive on Thursday. Now a second person – a man in his 30s – has also returned a positive swab.

The Queensland health minister, Yvette D’Ath, said on Thursday the 14 passengers and six crew who had been aboard the Lady E yacht had not been cooperating with contact-tracing inquiries since they arrived in the state on Monday.

“The superyacht in question has not been very cooperative at all in relation to information being provided to the Queensland Police Service,” D’Ath said.

But the captain of the Lady E , James Kennedy, said in a statement that he and his crew were “fully cooperating with the authorities and have followed all protocols before docking in Cairns and since arrival”.

“Our team have quarantined, undertaken all necessary Covid-19 tests and stand ready to provide whatever details the authorities deem necessary,” he said. “We remain ready to comply in full.”

Tim Davis, a spokesman for Burgess Yachts – the company that rents out the vessel – defended the crew’s behaviour and said they had “fully complied with all necessary regulations required by Australian authorities in entering Australian waters”.

Outdoor dining area on the Lady E superyacht.
Outdoor dining area on the Lady E superyacht. Photograph: Supplied

Davis said one crew member had tested negative immediately before boarding a flight from the UK to the Maldives ahead of the voyage to Cairns, but they tested positive upon arriving in Male.

“[Then] all crew members were tested with some testing positive,” he said. “To adhere with legal requirements and the ship’s strict protocols, at this point the entire crew were placed in onshore quarantine for 14 days except for a small number who remained on the yacht for safety reasons but were also required to quarantine for 14 days on the yacht.”

Davis said after the crew completed 14 days of quarantine in Male they were retested and returned negative results on 5 December.

Davis said the Lady E then left for Cairns and did not make any stops before arriving in Cairns.

Records show the luxury yacht – which features spa facilities, a gym, a cinema, a heated pool and an elevator between floors – visited Gibraltar, Egypt and the Maldives before embarking on the two-week voyage to Cairns.

Authorities are trying to ascertain every location the yacht visited and the interactions of its crew as it made its way to Australia. Passengers and crew on board initially did not provide trip and close contact details to police, authorities said. It is not yet know how the virus entered the vessel.

The 20-year-old Covid-positive crew member was taken to Cairns hospital while the remaining crew quarantined on the 75-metre yacht. The 14 passengers were directed into 14-day hotel quarantine in Cairns and underwent mandatory Covid-19 testing.

“The man [in his 30s] is associated to an earlier confirmed case announced yesterday, in connection to a marine vessel arriving from the Maldives,” Queensland Health said on Friday afternoon.

Queensland’s chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young, said on Thursday: “It is a lesson to us all that superyachts, that have come from elsewhere in the world, no matter how long they might have been at sea, are a risk, and are required to quarantine.”

The yacht is registered to the Cayman Islands and is recorded as departing Male in the Maldives on 6 November.

The Lady E’s cinema
The Lady E’s cinema. Photograph: Supplied

According to Burgess Yachts the Lady E was rebuilt in 2020 and costs $785,000 a week to charter.

It is recorded as docking in Gibraltar and anchoring off Port Said in Egypt in October. It is unclear if the passengers and crew have remained the same since October.


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