Rio De La Plata update

All Port of Tauranga workers who were identified as having contact with the Rio De Le Plata crew have returned initial negative results. Additional test results required for some port workers have also come back negative, although six results are pending.

A total of 72 port workers have been identified as contacts; 70 were identified as requiring a Day Three test after their potential exposure; 64 of these have returned a negative test and six are pending. In addition, two pilots, who have also both tested negative, remain in isolation for 14 days since their possible exposure.

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.

Regarding the crew of the Rio De La Plata, crew members aboard remain asymptomatic and the vessel has now left New Zealand.

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.

As is standard practice with the COVID-19 response, the Ministry is reviewing the incident response over the next few days and will be providing an initial update to the Minister early 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 the 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.

Anyone in New Zealand who has symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should call Healthline (0800 358 5453) for advice on getting a test. Anyone who is tested should self-isolate at home until they return a negative test.