The container ship Mattina in quarantine in Bluff.
A total of nine crew members aboard the Mattina container ship, which is currently quarantined in Bluff, have tested positive for Covid-19.
The Marshall Islands-flagged ship entered port on Sunday evening and all 21 crew members were tested yesterday morning after two crew members initially reported having symptoms.
After confirmation of the first two cases yesterday afternoon, all additional results came back late last night, confirming a further seven cases of Covid-19 on board the ship.
Health officials have determined that the only local port member who has had contact with the ship’s crew is the South Port pilot, who boarded the ship as it entered port.
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Pilots are required to board ships of this size when mooring. The pilot was wearing appropriate PPE and was fully vaccinated.
In a statement, the health ministry said the pilot had been in contact with three crew members, but because the three returned negative results, he was no longer considered close contact and no longer had to self-isolate.
A spokesman said eight of the nine crew members who tested positive showed symptoms of Covid-19 but were healthy enough to remain on the ship.
“Health officials will closely monitor the health and well-being of all crew members on a daily basis as further decisions are made,” the spokesperson said.
No one has been on or off the ship since it docked.
Yesterday morning’s testing for Covid-19 took place in the walkway area and all applicable protocols were followed by health personnel, including PPE.
Health officials in southern DHB are working with other agencies to determine the next steps for the ship.
The Mattina will remain in quarantine in a secured part of the harbor that is not open to the public and gates will be placed to further restrict access to the vessel.
Invercargill councilor Marcus Lush, who lives in Bluff, said it was a good thing that New Zealand’s frontline workers, including port staff, had been vaccinated.
“It seems to have been handled very well. Let’s hope.”
South Port acting chief executive Geoff Finnerty confirmed that all crew members remained on board the Mattina, which had been quarantined in a secure area of the harbor and closed to the public.
Gates were placed to further restrict access to the ship.
“The company continues to work with Public Health South and the Department of Health to manage the situation and ensure the safety and well-being of our staff and to minimize any risk to them and the wider community.”