28 Oct 2020

Covid-19: Government looking at daily testing of transitting ship crew

11:21 pm on 28 October 2020

Shipping crews transiting through New Zealand could be tested for Covid-19, even if they're only in the country for 24 hours.

A laboratory staff wearing Personal Protective Equipments (PPE) places a hand on samples collected for Covid-19 coronavirus testing.

Photo: AFP

At the moment, those crews are only tested if they spend three or more days in a managed isolation facility while waiting to board their ship.

It comes after eight crew members from the Philippines transited through New Zealand to board a ship in Auckland without receiving a test.

It is believed those workers may be the source of the country's newest cluster, after they came into contact with a port worker, who later tested positive.

Minister of Health Chris Hipkins said they were now looking to introduce mandatory testing.

He told Morning Report they were still considering whether to increase regular testing for port workers from every two weeks to every week.

As for shipping crew who come ashore only to transfer in about three days, Hipkins said they would not need quarantine, or the other option might be for them to not come to New Zealand at all and do crew transfers elsewhere.

"Maybe we would end up losing some of the valuable passage that we get through having those boats come to New Zealand," Hipkins said.

The government was looking as testing crew even if they were here overnight.

"That helps with our track and trace efforts if there are any further outbreaks in New Zealand. That's something we'd be looking to do fairly quickly."

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