COVID-19: Three new cases in MIQ, six COVID-positive Playa Zahara crewmen infected with Delta variant

COVID-19: Three new cases in MIQ, six COVID-positive Playa Zahara crewmen infected with Delta variant
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Six of the 16 infectious crewmen from the COVID-stricken Playa Zahara fishing vessel are carrying the highly contagious Delta variant, the Ministry of Health confirmed on Monday.

Meanwhile, three recent returnees have tested positive in managed isolation and quarantine facilities (MIQ) since the ministry's last update on Sunday.

Whole genome sequencing has now been completed on samples taken from another three COVID-positive crew members. The sequencing found all three are infected with the Delta variant, along with the initial three crewmen who had their results reported on Friday.

The mariners have no links to previously confirmed cases in New Zealand or to the Viking Bay shipping vessel, which has also seen a bout of COVID-19 on-board. Whole genome sequencing results for the remaining crew are expected over the next few days.

The Playa Zahara is currently secured at a quarantine berth at Lyttelton Port in Christchurch within an exclusion zone not accessible by the public.

Thirteen of the 18 crewmen were safely transferred to a MIQ facility in Christchurch on Sunday, using standard Infection Prevention and Control measures, including the use of appropriate PPE. The remaining five crewmen remain aboard the ship and plans are in place should any of them become unwell. 

The remaining two crew members who previously tested negative again returned negative results on their arrival in Christchurch.

Travellers from Australia

Contact tracers have identified 21 people in New Zealand who have visited locations of interest in Queensland and Victoria at the relevant times. Both states are battling outbreaks of COVID-19, with quarantine-free travel currently suspended for the latter, as well as from New South Wales - which has been recording significant numbers of new cases each day.

Thirteen of the 21 contacts had visited potential exposure sites in Brisbane, with an additional two in wider Queensland. Six reported being at a location of interest in Melbourne.

Of the 21 contacts, 17 have tested negative and the remaining four are awaiting their results. Three are isolating for 14 days and the remainder will isolate until they return a negative day five test.

"Public health officials continue to closely monitor the situation in Australia, particularly in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, where there has been a growing number of COVID-19 cases. Travel with New South Wales was paused on June 22 and with Victoria on July 16," a spokesperson said.

Anyone who has been in Victoria from July 8 is encouraged to keep up-to-date with Victoria Health as locations of interest which continue to be identified.

Anyone who has been in Queensland from June 28 is encouraged to check Queensland Health for locations on interest.

People who have been at a potential exposure site at the relevant time should immediately isolate at their home or appropriate accommodation and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice on testing.

Case update

The three recent returnees who have tested positive for COVID-19 at the border arrived on July 14, 16 and 17 respectively. The first arrived from Serbia and Montenegro via the UAE and tested positive on day three. The second's place of departure has yet to be determined, but they travelled via Singapore and tested positive on the first day of their stay, The third arrived from Eritrea via and unconfirmed location and tested positive on arrival. All three are quarantining in Auckland.

One previously reported case has now recovered, bringing the total number of active cases in New Zealand to 47. To date, our confirmed case total stands at 2461.