COVID-19: No cause for alarm after international fishermen test positive for coronavirus - expert

An expert is confident COVID-19 has not spread past the border following a wave of infections at a Christchurch isolation facility.

Christchurch Airport's Sudima Hotel has been locked down after 11 people, understood to be fishermen, have tested positive for coronavirus while another 14 cases are investigated.

The Ministry of Health was made aware of the test results on Tuesday afternoon.

But Professor Michael Plank, a modeller from the University of Canterbury and Te Pūnaha Matatini, says there's no reason to worry.

"As long as we follow all the correct processes and all of the precautions then we should be able to contain this within the quarantine facility," he told Newshub on Tuesday. 

The positive cases were discovered during day three of mandatory managed isolation testing. Prof Plank said there's little chance of those cases spreading past the facility.

"They're in quarantine for a reason but as long as they're kept strictly in isolation then that should minimise the risk of passing the virus." 

He's also urging officials not to focus on pre-departure testing - something the fishermen reportedly had in Russia and Ukraine before leaving for New Zealand.

Those tests might not be accurate, he said.

Michael Plank.
Michael Plank. Photo credit: File

"All of these people tested negative before they departed so I think that shows putting too much weight on pre-departure testing is not a good idea."  

It's understood the fishing crew of more than 200 recently arrived in the country after being granted a special exemption from the Government. They are the only group staying at the Sudima Hotel.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield is expected to provide further details on Wednesday.