Positive Covid-19 cases on Tauranga container ship
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.”