Sydney, Australia, Jul 15 (EFE).- Sixteen of 18 crew members of Spanish-flagged fishing vessel Playa Zahara have tested positive for Covid-19 in New Zealand, just days after a similar case involving another Spanish boat and its crew in the country, authorities reported Thursday.
“The swabs were taken in Port Taranaki on Tuesday after reports of a flu-like illness on board as a precursor to a scheduled crew change,” the Ministry of Health said in a statement Wednesday, adding genome sequencing was underway.
The Playa Zahara was at sea for three weeks prior to reports of illnesses, the ministry said, and it is unknown where the crew became infected.
The vessel is now heading from the North Island port of Taranaki to Lyttelton, in the South Island, to comply with quarantine measures either on the boat or in a center designed for these purposes.
The Spanish boat is the second in New Zealand in recent days to record Covid-19 infections on board.
Sixteen cases have been found among the 20 crew members of the Spanish-flagged fishing vessel Viking Bay, docked in Wellington Harbor.
The infected are now in a quarantine center in Wellington, while the remaining four who tested negative remain in isolation on the ship while they perform maintenance and security tasks, as well as undergoing further testing.
More than half of the fishing boat’s crew have been at sea since February, while nine members had arrived in New Zealand on July 5 for the Viking Bay’s scheduled crew change, according to the ministry.
The ministry also confirmed that genome sequencing from 12 of the crew aboard the Viking Bay shows they all have the Delta variant, and that none are linked to any other confirmed cases recorded in New Zealand.
New Zealand, whose government has been praised for its management in the face of the pandemic due to its strategy of brief and localized lockdowns and which has been living a normal practice for months, has accumulated 2,438 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, including 26 deaths. EFE