Coronavirus: Rio de la Plata leaves Tauranga as day three test results come in for some port workers

  • 11/08/2021

The Rio de la Plata ship carrying COVID-19 infected crew has left Tauranga for Malaysia as all potentially exposed port workers return initial negative results.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Ministry of Health said while all workers had negative test results, additional tests were required for some.

A total of 72 port workers were identified as contacts of the crew and 70 required a day three test. Of these, 64 have returned negative tests, while the remaining six are pending.

"In addition two pilots, who have also both tested negative, remain in isolation for 14 days since their possible exposure," the Ministry of Health said. "Local Tauranga public health staff will be providing individual advice to the border workers on when they can return to work, with the majority cleared for work today."

The ministry also said the Rio de la Plata ship has now left New Zealand. Infected crew members on board remain asymptomatic. 

"The local public health unit will be working closely with Port of Tauranga and companies employing port workers to improving access to those not currently vaccinated to get a vaccination.  The local public health service will have staff on-site to provide vaccinations to port staff from Monday for the next two weeks.

"Health officials will be holding two information sessions with port workers tomorrow with clinicians available to answer questions.  Public health staff have been engaging in multiple hui and Q+ A sessions at the port since March and will continue to encourage staff to get vaccinated up until the deadline of 30 September."

Concern was sparked when it emerged on Monday that 11 crew members of the ship had tested positive for COVID-19 and that some workers had spent time on the ship. Many of those weren't vaccinated. 

The Ministry of Health will review its incident response over the next few days and provide an update to the minister next week on lessons and improvements. 

"In addition, a fuller review process will also incorporate the three other recent incidents involving the vessels the Playa Zahara, the Viking Bay and the Mattina with infected crew.

"Public health staff have assessed that the risk posed to the Tauranga community by the Rio De La Plata COVID-19 cases is low, and the steps taken to date are appropriately managing any risks. For this reason, there are currently no restrictions on events in Tauranga.

"The Ministry is asking port workers, their close contacts and Tauranga community to remain vigilant for COVID-19 like illness and follow all health advice."