Infected crew members highlight a weak point in border security

Two COVID-positive foreign crew members are self-isolating on the Spanish-flagged deep sea fishing vessel Viking Bay off the Taranaki coast.

The two crew members were part of a group of nine who arrived at Auckland Airport on Monday 5 July before driving to New Plymouth to join their ship.

The two crew who tested positive for COVID-19 stopped once on their trip from Auckland to Taranaki to use a toilet at a Hamilton isolation facility.

Three people who came into contact with the crew members are self-isolating including their driver and port workers.

Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Craig Harrison says any incident like this raises the risk for infection.

Mr Harrison says  the Viking Bay had previously been in Auckland on 1 and 2 July before traveling to New Plymouth.

He says the question needed to be asked why the crew switch was not made in Auckland or nearby, which would have avoided potential exposure during their local travel.

“It is important to ensure short cuts are not being taken for economic reasons that might compromise New Zealand’s safety.”

Mr Harrison says there may have to be a review of how foreign crew members were processed as it seemed like a vulnerability in New Zealand’s border management of COVID-19.

He says unfortunately there is now a ship on our coast with cases of COVID-19 on board, and all the crew have been potentially exposed, a situation which could have been avoided.






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