Positive Covid-19 cases on Tauranga container ship

The Rio de la Plata at the container terminal on Thursday. Photo: Alisha Evans/SunLive.

The Ministry of Health has today confirmed that 11 of the 21 crew on board a container ship, the Rio De La Plata, currently at sea off the coast of Tauranga, have tested positive for Covid-19.

Public Health staff took the test swabs in Tauranga from the crew as part of the requirements for entry for the vessel to Napier, it’s intended next destination.

“It’s likely that at least some of the eleven crew are active cases of Covid-19 and further test results, expected today, will help determine how many of the crew are likely to be historical cases and no longer infectious,” says a MOH statement.

All of the crew on board are reported to be well, with none reporting any symptoms.  No crew members came Port-side while the ship was being unloaded in Tauranga.

The MOH also state that, as an additional precautionary measure, 94 port workers who as part of their work, spent time on the vessel while it was in port, are now being contacted, provided with advice, tested and stood down until a negative result returned. 

“Testing for those staff is being arranged at the port this morning.”

The ship is currently anchored out of the harbour, near to Motiti Island.

The Rio De La Plata container ship, circled, is currently anchored off of Motiti Island. Image. Marine Traffic.

In a statement, the Port of Tauranga say they treat all vessels as if they have Covid-19 on board and all port workers who interacted with the ship followed the usual Covid-19 precautions.

This includes physical distancing and wearing PPE.

“Out of an abundance of caution, public health authorities have advised workers who boarded the ship to self-isolate and be tested for Covid-19 on Monday morning,” says a Port spokesperson.

Cargo loading and unloading at Tauranga Container Terminal is set to operate at reduced levels whilst we work through this situation.

“The health and safety of port workers, their families and the community are our top priority.

“We will continue to follow all advice and directions of public health authorities.”

The vessel was at Port of Tauranga from 6pm on Wednesday, August 4 to 2pm on Saturday, August 7.

The ship is linked to a Covid case in an Australian pilot who was on board the vessel in July in Queensland. The pilot later developed symptoms and then tested positive for Covid-19 nine days after being aboard the vessel.  The Australian pilot is confirmed to have the Delta variant and has not been linked to any other Queensland cases.

Initial concerns about the link with the Australian pilot did result in loading of the vessel being temporarily halted on Wednesday, August 4 in Tauranga. 

Port of Tauranga confirm the ship was the subject of health authorities’ attention earlier in the week but did not comment on how the ship was cleared.

The Ministry of Health state that an assessment carried out on Wednesday cleared the ship, and unloading was allowed to resume the following day.

“The usual precautions and protocols in place by Port staff mean that any risks are appropriately managed.”

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Posted on 10-08-2021 18:50 | By morepork

Glad you got a smile. Don’t encourage me... I’ll keep doing it... :-)

@ morepork

Posted on 10-08-2021 12:45 | By

Perhaps a Vegemite sandwich for supper could keep the bugs at bay . . . but not in the bay . . . Interesting that we’ve gone from Covid19 to scuttling the ship to closing the Port to a supper bug to Vegemite, HAHAHA. This is great.


Posted on 09-08-2021 14:07 | By

Couldn’t agree more. Spot the sarcasm. Can’t wait for the supper bug.

@mein fuhrer

Posted on 09-08-2021 13:42 | By morepork

Ivermectin, corticosteroids, remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir, and injecting disinfectant, have all been suggested and discarded, conditionally or unequivocally. Low dose anti-coagulants are approved for some cases. It is all very confusing... I believe in Vegemite.

@terry hall

Posted on 09-08-2021 13:33 | By morepork

I believe you may have missed the irony in Slim Shady’s ’panic’ statement. He is not seriously advocating the boat be scuttled and the port be closed. He IS illustrating that over-reaction is not helpful... I was interested in your allusion to the ’supper bug’ that is waiting for us in the wings. Supper being one of my favorite meals, I would be concerned if there is a bug that can affect it. Can you tell us more?


Posted on 09-08-2021 11:08 | By

panic, that is a stupid statement to make, you are going to have to live with it now it is here to stay just like the flu, you will have to learn to protect yourself do as the authorities say abide by the rules to stop the spread, this will not be the last to hit us, it will be the supper bug next it is lying in the background,.


Posted on 09-08-2021 10:03 | By

This ship was cleared. Now 11 of 21 crew are Covid positive and have interacted with 94 port workers. How many people have the 94 workers interacted with? No blame on them. This is a failure of border security. I suggest closing the port until this is remedied.

just give them Ivermectin

Posted on 09-08-2021 09:37 | By Mein Fuhrer

and everything will be fine.


Posted on 09-08-2021 09:18 | By dave4u

21 crew stayed on board but 94 port workers went on board so 94 port workers families ,kids etc are out in the community possibly spreading it. Hunker down Tauranga north,south,east n west....jeez


Posted on 09-08-2021 08:35 | By

Scuttle it. Close the port. No more ships.