A fishing vessel carrying 16 sailors with Covid-19 arrived at Lyttelton port and 13 crew members were taken to managed isolation and quarantine in Christchurch (MIQ).
About three sailors from Lyttelton Port encountered the ship just before 9 a.m. on Sunday, wearing full PPE, including masks and shields.
A tent had been pitched and two buses were waiting at the platform. New Zealand Defense Force personnel and health officials wore masks and gloves.
Of the 18 crew members – believed to be Indonesian nationals – of the Spanish-flagged vessel, 13 were taken to MIQ at the Sudima Hotel near Christchurch Airport on two buses escorted by police.
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The Sudima hotel has a wing dedicated to quarantine with 28 rooms.
The Spanish-flagged vessel was not fishing in New Zealand waters and was heading for Taranaki to change crew. The current crew underwent Covid testing on Tuesday after 15 recent flu-like symptoms were reported.
The ship started heading from Taranaki to Christchurch on Thursday and the Department of Health later confirmed 16 crew members had the Covid-19.
On Friday, the ministry confirmed that three crew members had the highly infectious Delta variant.
Health officials said that after discovering that the virus had spread rapidly through the foreign ship, “we felt this was the best step to take to offer managed isolation and quarantine. [spots]”.
A spokesperson for Environment Canterbury said on Friday that a pilot on a pilot ship would steer the ship alongside, maintaining radio contact, and a second pilot would be on a tug following the ship in case that was necessary.
ANDY JACKSON / STUFF
The crew of the Playa Zahara fishing vessel have all been tested for Covid-19, with 15 of the 18 crew members having recently suffered from flu-like symptoms.
Normally, a pilot would board the ship to guide them, but this would not happen in this case due to the risk of exposing the pilot to the virus.
All plans for the health, transportation and safety of seafarers were in place “with minimal risk to the public,” ministry officials said.
Due to Article 4 of the Health (Quarantine) Law, seafarers were not responsible for the cost of stay at MIQ.
A spokesperson for Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said they would discuss with the shipping company a contribution to the costs of stay in quarantine.
Health officials said they were also talking to the shipping company about it.
National Covid-19 response spokesperson Chris Bishop said sailors should pay for their stay, not the government.