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Ports of Auckland being investigated as possible source of Covid re-emergence in Auckland

Ports of Auckland is being looked at as one possible way Covid-19 made its way back into the community.

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Testing the staff working at the maritime border is also included in the investigation into the source of the outbreak. Source: 1 NEWS

Workers at the port are among hundreds of border staff that have been tested to see if there’s a link to the cluster in Auckland.

Minister of Health Chris Hipkins says looking into the ports is part of the “scrupulous” investigation into how the first family that was identified with Covid-19 became infected with the virus.

“We are being very vigilant at the ports and at the border with our testing as part of our elimination process,” he said.

Mr Hipkins says there was testing of port staff already taking place and now it’s become mandatory.

When asked if the ports had been a blind spot for testing for Covid-19, Mr Hipkins said the Government had been working on the issue. adding that the port posed a lot of complex issues.

“There are a lot of people that move around the port on a daily basis. There will be those more at risk than others and there’s also been issues to work through around the crew that have been loading and unloading but actually aren’t coming into New Zealand,” he said.

He says this process of loading and unloading by shipping crews is an area of risk and they’ve been working on reducing that risk with testing.

The Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says for more than a month there has been a Maritime Border Order preventing people from coming off ships.

“[There has been] physical distancing of crew that have needed to come off and unload – physical distancing for any port-side worker,” he said.

He says testing has been rolling out across the 17 ports around the country which includes Auckland.

“We want to test staff at both the maritime and air border, but yes also as part of our investigation to follow that chain of the Americold goods that might have come in through the port and been transported to that Mt Wellington depot.”