Sixteen crew on Spanish vessel in NZ waters test positive for Covid-19

Sixteen of the 18 crew onboard the Spanish-flagged ship the Playa Zahara have tested positive for Covid-19.

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Sixteen mariners from the Spanish boat in NZ waters have coronavirus. Source: 1 NEWS

The Ministry of Health confirmed the news in a statement this morning.

It says "the public health risk from these results is considered to be low".

The swabs were taken in Port Taranaki on Tuesday after reports of a flu-like illness on board as a precursor to a scheduled crew change.

After the tests were taken, the ship again departed from Port Taranaki and is now on its way to Lyttelton where the appropriate level of support can be provided, the ministry says.

"The Playa Zahara’s shipping agent and its crew are cooperating with officials to ensure the health of those aboard and the safety of the New Zealand public."

Whole genome sequencing is underway.

This follows the recent Covid-19 outbreak on another foreign ship in New Zealand waters, Viking Bay. The ship's docked in Wellington and 15 crew with coronavirus are quarantining on land.

Fishing vessel Playa Zahara. Source: 1 NEWS

In a statement to 1 NEWS today, Port Taranaki said it was satisfied with all safety precautions taken when fishing vessel Playa Zahara docked at the port on Tuesday.

“No Port Taranaki staff or other port workers went on board the vessel or had contact with those on the vessel,” the port's chief executive Guy Roper said.

“The vessel was remotely piloted in and out of port, and those tying up the vessel wore full PPE and had no contact with crew.

“The vessel moored at a special area set aside for quarantine vessels on Moturoa Wharf, and the wharf area was washed down when the vessel returned to sea.”

Roper said the port had been supporting the Ministry of Health’s procedures “to ensure that the safety of the community and the welfare of the crew has been the top priority”.