The Playa Zahara is due in the Port of Lyttelton today after 16 of 18 crewmen tested positive for Covid. Photo / Supplied
Genome testing is under way as sick crew on board a fishing vessel powering towards the Port of Lyttelton are set to be taken to a quarantine facility in Christchurch.
The Ministry of Health is due to release a statement at 1pm today.
It follows confirmation by officials that 16 seamen on board the Spanish-flagged Playa Zahara had tested positive for the virus.
This morning health officials confirmed 13 of the crew would be moved to a quarantine facility, including two seaman who had tested negative.
Five mariners considered at the end of their infections would remain onboard to maintain the safety of the vessel.
Genome sequencing was now under way to determine the strain circulating among the mariners.
The Playa Zahara is the second international fishing vessel in less than a week to have crew test positive for the infection.
The first, the Viking Bay, was now berthed at Wellington with 16 crewmen testing positive for Covid. All but one were in quarantine in a managed isolation and quarantine facility in the capital. One person remains on board the ship.
The ministry said health authorities were working on arrangements for the crew once they arrived at Lyttelton Port.
The transport of the 13 crew to the quarantine facility would be done using standard Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) protocols, including the use of appropriate PPE.
IPC protocols would also be adhered to for the ship while it was docked at the port, said authorities.
The ministry said Playa Zahara’s shipping agent and its crew were cooperating with officials to ensure the health of those aboard and the safety of the New Zealand public.
By mid-morning it was stationed east of Kaikōura after travelling south from Taranaki where testing took place earlier this week.
Yesterday saw the greatest number of infections, with 21 people added to active cases in New Zealand. There were no cases in the community.
Five people who had arrived in New Zealand from July 9 from Fiji, Brazil and the United Kingdom had tested positive after routine arrival and day three swabs.
Meanwhile, Australia’s growing Covid crisis last night saw the New Zealand Government pause all travel to and from Victoria.
Yesterday there were 10 new community cases in the state that had previously avoided the outbreak surging in neighbouring New South Wales.
The government halted all travel to the state at 1.59am today and would review the decision on Monday.
The move followed updated public health advice from New Zealand officials and a growing number of cases and locations of interest.
Health officials asked anyone who had been in Melbourne in the past week and had since returned to New Zealand to monitor their health, and be aware that the number of locations of interest were steadily increasing.
Travel was suspended to New South Wales on June 23 with the emergence of community cases.