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Covid-19: Ministry investigating mariner cases in Bluff, Pinoy seamen among them

Covid-19: Ministry investigating mariner cases in Bluff
Louisa Stey l Nov 08 2021

The Ministry of Health is investigating two cases of Covid-19 aboard a ship berthed in Bluff.

In a statement, the ministry said the cases were likely historical as the mariners delivered weak positive results; and that results from repeat testing were expected on Tuesday.

The cases are on board a bulk carrier vessel MS La Guismorais which arrived in Bluff from Malaysia on Saturday.

The crew members were tested as part of the process for allowing a crew member to depart the vessel and fly home on compassionate grounds, a ministry spokesperson said.

All the 23 crew members remain aboard the vessel.

The bulk of them are vaccinated, the spokesperson said, and none of the crew have symptoms or have reported a recent illness during the voyage.

A South Port spokesperson said management were notified of the cases by Public Health South on Sunday morning.

The ship is currently in quarantine and isolated at its berth.

“New Zealand Customs and Public Health South are managing all vessel and crew interaction,” the South Port spokesperson said.

A harbour pilot boarded the vessel to bring it into port, but strict Covid-19 protocols were followed, as was the case for all shipping movements, which included wearing the correct PPE and physical distancing, the spokesperson said.

It is the second the time Covid-19 has been detected aboard a ship berthed in Bluff harbour.

Two mariners aboard the MS Mattina tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Bluff from Indonesia, via Australia on July 18, 2020.

It was the first time the highly infectious strain of Covid-19 had been detected in Southland and by the end of that week, 15 of the cargo ship's 21 crew members had been infected.

Two of the Filipino and Ukranian mariners were later admitted to Southland Hospital before the ship was granted pratique and cleared to leave on August 18.