COVID-19 cases confirmed on one of first cruise ships to return to New Zealand

Tom Kitchin for RNZ

COVID-19 cases have been confirmed on one of the first cruise ships to travel around New Zealand in more than two years.

Ovation of the Seas sailed into Napier on Monday from Tahiti.

It went on to Wellington, arriving on Tuesday morning, and from there will go to Picton, then Sydney.

The cruise liner carries almost 5000 passengers and 1300 crew.

In a statement, National Public Health Service medical officer of health in Hawke's Bay Bridget Wilson said authorities had been told about the Covid-19 cases and were confident requirements were being followed.

"Before any ship coming from overseas enters a New Zealand port, it has to be granted pratique [permission] by the local public health service. This requires ships' captains to notify the public health service of any suspected infectious illness like Covid-19 on board, and show they are taking the necessary isolation and quarantine action."

"Ovation of the Seas was granted pratique on Sunday 23 October to dock and disembark passengers from the cruise liner in accordance with border control measures set out by the Ministry of Health.

"Having reviewed the isolation and testing protocols in place aboard Ovation of the Seas, we are confident that Covid-19 cases are being isolated appropriately and their contacts managed in line with our current domestic settings."

Wilson has not yet specified how many cases were notified to authorities.

RNZ has approached the ship's operator, Royal Caribbean, for comment.

The company told the NZ Herald they had worked closely with local authorities to follow all health protocols and complied with maritime reporting requirements before arrival in Napier. Positive cases on board were required to isolate for five days and if still symptomatic, on days six and seven, a spokesperson said.

Passengers aged 12 and must be fully vaccinated and provide a negative test result before sailing, the spokesperson said.