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Three Covid-positive crew members on Playa Zahara vessel have Delta variant

Three of the 16 crew members on board the Playa Zahara fishing vessel who tested positive for Covid-19 have contracted the Delta variant, according to the Ministry of Health.

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

Preliminary results from whole genome sequencing show the variant is not linked to any previously confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country or to a second fishing vessel, Viking Bay, which is currently quarantined in Wellington.

"Sixteen of the 18 crew of the Spanish-flagged vessel have tested positive for Covid-19 and the Playa Zahara is currently on its way to Lyttelton," the Ministry of Health said tonight in a statement.

"Swabs were taken when the crew first arrived at Port Taranaki on Tuesday after reports of a flu-like illness on board. Standard Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) protocol, including the appropriate use of PPE, was used throughout the crew’s testing.

"The most recent crew aboard the Playa Zahara had arrived in New Zealand on June 18 and spent two days at a managed isolation facility in Auckland. They provided negative pre-departure tests before arriving in New Zealand and again tested negative before boarding the ship."

The vessel will arrive in Lyttelton over the weekend.

Thirteen of the crew will be moved to a quarantine facility in Christchurch following the vessel's arrival at Lyttelton Port. Five others will remain aboard to maintain basic functions of the vessel.

Whole genome sequencing is still underway for the remaining crew members.