11 positive Covid-19 cases, 14 more under investigation after fishermen arrive at Christchurch hotel

A hotel in Christchurch has gone into lockdown after being alerted to a "significant number" of potential Covid-19 cases, following the arrival of more than 200 fishermen from Russia and Ukraine.

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Eleven people have tested positive for the virus at the Sudima Hotel, and another 14 cases are under investigation. Source: 1 NEWS

The Sudima Christchurch Airport Hotel is being used as a managed isolation and quarantine facility, hosting new arrivals from overseas as they undergo their 14-day isolation period.

The Ministry of Health confirmed there have been 11 positive Covid-19 test results, with 14 other cases also being investigated.

"As further analysis is undertaken, these numbers may change. For example, some cases could be classed as historical," a spokesperson told 1 NEWS.

"All relevant public health measures are being taken. At facilities, strict infection prevention and control processes are followed to minimise the risk to public and staff."

Sudima chief operating officer Les Morgan told 1 NEWS they were alerted this afternoon.

"Early this afternoon MBIE made contact with the hotel to alert us to a significant number of potential cases with the Covid virus in the hotel," he says.

The hotel, which is located near Christchurch Airport, has been placed in lockdown.

The Ministry of Health spokesperson says the group are the only people staying at the facility and the cases were picked up at the regular day-three Covid-19 testing.

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There are currently 11 people with Covid-19 at the Sudima Hotel near Christchurch Airport, and more are being investigated. Source: 1 NEWS

"This is an example of our border controls working as they should."

Around 240 fishermen are in isolation at the hotel after arriving on Friday. They were brought over by Independent Fisheries, Sealord and Maruha Nichiro to work on the companies' fishing vessels.

Sealord chief executive Doug Paulin says they were granted border exemptions as critical workers.

"Qualified and experienced fishing crew are in short supply in New Zealand. Despite rising unemployment, Kiwis continue to be reluctant to take up seagoing roles," he says.

"Sealord runs extensive recruitment processes and plans to ramp these up in conjunction with the Government."

The job involves a six-month stay fishing for deepwater species including jack mackerel, squid, barracuda and southern blue whiting.

"Sealord is paying the same amount per person as any non-New Zealander in managed isolation - at facilities in Christchurch and Auckland."

Paulin told 1 NEWS he has faith in the Ministry of Health's management.

"I think this is just further evidence that the approach that the Government has taken in regards to border protection is fantastic," he says.

"And if you look around the rest of the world, I think we can safely say given history and even given what’s happened here, that the approach New Zealand has taken is best in class."

He says 110 of Sealord's crew are in the Sudima and the remainder will be from the other fishing companies.

For Sudima, Morgan says staff will be concerned but they are "relaxed about any risk to staff".

"They take all precautions possible and there is no contact between staff and those in quarantine."

Air Commodore Darryn Webb, the head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ), says today's cases are an example of the system "working as it should".

He describes the hotel's lockdown as a "precaution", with people restricted to their rooms as they prepare to quarantine the positive cases.

Unlike in Auckland, the Sudima is both a managed isolation and quarantine facility, with positive cases continuing to stay in the hotel.

Webb says additional security and nursing staff will be brought in as well as a "special staff testing station".

"The workforce at this facility are dedicated to this site and do not work at other sites."

Further details will be released tomorrow, the Ministry of Health says.

Earlier today, the Ministry of Health confirmed one other new Covid-19 case, a recent overseas arrival who was staying at an Auckland managed isolation facility.