Fourteen months after the South’s last case of Covid-19 recovered, local doctors yesterday again donned protective equipment to treat patients with the pandemic disease.
Two crew working on the container ship Mattina were briefly admitted to the emergency department at Southland Hospital yesterday for further assessment.
The mariners, who returned to their vessel after being seen by doctors, were deemed not to need ongoing care but would be monitored, Southland Hospital acting general manager Jo McLeod said.
Mattina arrived in Bluff on Sunday night, its master having warned port officials in advance that two of the 21 people on board were showing Covid-19-like symptoms.
The vessel was placed in quarantine, and tests revealed nine people had contracted Covid-19.
Ms McLeod said St John ambulance had transferred the two seamen from Mattina to hospital and back again.
‘‘This was done in a carefully planned and co-ordinated way, working with St John, Infection Prevention and Control, Southland Hospital Emergency Department and other hospital staff, under the guidance of Southern District Health Board’s (SDHB) medical officer of health.’’
‘‘Southern DHB infection and prevention and control staff have been visiting all areas of Southland Hospital to check procedures and PPE,’’ Ms McLeod said.
The SDHB region was one of the most severely affected places in New Zealand during the initial phase of the pandemic.
When the region’s final case was declared cured, 216 cases of Covid-19 had been detected in Otago and Southland.
A South Port spokeswoman confirmed yesterday all frontline staff who were required to be vaccinated under the Covid-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order had been fully vaccinated and undertook regular testing.
“When vaccinations became available to all border workers earlier this year, we encouraged all of our staff to be vaccinated and continue to do so,” she said.
However, employees not covered by the order were not required by law to disclose their vaccination status to their employer.
An exclusion zone was still in place around the vessel and access to the Mattina was being managed by New Zealand Customs, the South Port spokeswoman said.
No containers had been moved off the vessel.
“No cargo operations have, or will, occur until the vessel and its crew are released from quarantine.”
Protocols around handling of the cargo would be included as part of the ship’s release from quarantine, she said.
Authorities were still trying to trace how Covid-19 came to be aboard Mattina.
The vessel took two new crew members on board in Singapore on July 2, those people being the first cases detected aboard the vessel.
Mattina sailed for Indonesia, before travelling to Fremantle in West Australia, where it spent three days.
The West Australian reported 24 port workers in Fremantle were considered possible contacts of Mattina crew members.
The sole South Port worker to have been in contact with Mattina after it arrived from Fremantle, the pilot, was fully vaccinated and is not deemed a close contact.
On Tuesday, Singapore announced a month-long partial lockdown after several clusters of Covid-19 were identified. Those clusters included one which has been linked to the city’s port.
- No new Covid cases were reported in New Zealand managed isolation facilities yesterday.