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Health Minister explains the 'good reason' fewer port workers being tested for Covid-19

Minister of Health Chris Hipkins today explained the "good reason" fewer port workers are being tested for Covid-19 in New Zealand.

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Chris Hipkins had praise for the industry at today’s briefing. Source: 1 NEWS

It comes as the latest community cluster has been linked to a border incursion at the ports and has been officially labelled the marine employee cluster.

Hipkins was asked about the rate of testing at the ports, replying that at risk workers are being tested fortnightly, while the number of people being tested has been going down.

"What we’ve seen is the number of port workers being tested has been reducing, I’ve been looking very closely at that and one of the reasons for that is that ports are taking active measures to limit the number of people who may be at risk," he said.

"For example, the number of stevedores and pilots going on to a ship have been narrowed down to a very small group.

"So, the testing numbers are going down but that’s for a good reason.

"Of the thousands of people who work at New Zealand ports only a low number of people are at risk from Covid-19 and those people are being tested regularly," Hipkins said.

His comments come as nine new Covid-19 cases were recorded in New Zealand today, including one in the community.

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One of those cases was recorded in the community, Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed. Source: 1 NEWS

The community case is a household contact of a previously confirmed case in the marine employee cluster.

It comes after a Covid-19 positive person - connected to a port worker who tested positive for coronavirus - visited The Malt, a pub in Auckland’s Greenhithe, on Friday, October 16, from 7.30pm until 10pm.

All staff of The Malt have since returned negative tests, the pub's owner Kevin McVicar confirmed in a Facebook post today.

The man, who was unaware he was infectious at the time, also visited marine retailer Burnsco at Gulf Harbour twice on Sunday, October 18 - the first time at around 10.30am, then at around 3.30pm.

It follows two crew members on the Sofrana Surville who tested positive for Covid-19, while a third person received a weak positive, indicating an older infection. The ship is thought to be the source of recent community infections.

It's now been seven months since New Zealand saw its first Covid-19 case.

The total number of active cases in the country now stands at 66, and the overall total of confirmed cases is 1567.