Results of whole genome sequencing from nine crew members of the MS Mattina show they have the Delta variant of COVID-19.
The results also show the variant isn’t linked to any previously confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Zealand.
Three of the crew members have again returned negative results today following further testing.
The health and welfare of the crew, and wider public health issues, are being overseen by Southern DHB’s Medical Officers of Health, who are working closely with maritime, port and other government agencies.
As we indicated in our update earlier today, all crew who have tested positive will remain quarantined on board the vessel at this time, where they will maintain the minimum functions at the port. They will not have direct contact with any port staff while maintaining these functions.
Plans have now been finalised to ensure the three negative crew members, including the ship’s captain, are able to safely leave the ship and isolate away from the crew members who are positive.
In some cases, it is safer to manage the smaller group of negative cases, by taking them off the ship.
Two of the crew members will be transported to a Christchurch-based quarantine facility using a well-planned securely managed transport plan, including the use of Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) protocols.
The captain will isolate securely in DHB-provided accommodation to ensure he is able to isolate in close proximity to the Mattina.
As captain, he must remain close by in case of emergency.
Transportation from the ship to quarantine for the three members who have tested COVID-19 negative will be done under strict infection prevention and control procedures, including the use of full PPE.
Around the clock security will be on site at the DHB accommodation to ensure full compliance by the captain. If the captain does need to return to the Mattina urgently, plans are in place to manage this securely.
These plans have been put in place to ensure the safety of the negative crew members at the same time as the health and wellbeing of members of the community.