Fishing crew members who flew into New Zealand on chartered planes have tested positive for coronavirus while in hotel quarantine on the South Island.
Key points:No other people are staying at the same quarantine hotel as the infected crewAnother 14 possible infections are being investigatedThe development comes as South Australia eases border controls for New Zealand arrivals
Health officials confirmed on Tuesday 11 people had tested positive and another 14 possible infections were being investigated.
The crew members have been in quarantine at a Christchurch hotel since they arrived, and tested positive during routine testing, officials said.
New Zealand has managed to stamp out community spread of the virus.
But the news could deal a blow to New Zealand’s efforts to restart its fishing industry, which has struggled to find local workers to crew vessels.
Jeremy Helson, the chief executive of Seafood New Zealand, said all the men tested negative before flying to New Zealand.
“While we await to see how many cases there are, the fact that they were all detected in quarantine shows the system is working well,” Mr Helson said.
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The origin of the infected crew members is not immediately clear. However a number of fishing crews have been arriving in New Zealand in recent days from Russia and Ukraine.
More details on infected crew to emerge Authorities say the detections show border controls are working.(AP: Mark Baker)
The Ministry of Health confirmed the “imported cases” had been detected during a third day of testing of the crew members at the Christchurch hotel.
“The positive cases are part of a group who are the only people staying at this facility,” the Ministry of Heath said.
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The detections were an example of coronavirus controls working properly, it said.
“All relevant public health measures are being taken,” it said.
“At facilities, strict infection, prevention and control processes are followed to minimise the risk to public and staff.”
New Zealand authorities are expected to disclose more information about the cases on Wednesday.
What does this mean for the travel bubble?Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.WatchDuration: 1 minute 8 seconds1m 8s Loved ones reunite after the first flights from New Zealand arrive in Sydney.
It was not immediately clear if the cases would have any effect on the trans-Tasman travel bubble.
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The Travel Safe Zone lets people travel from New Zealand to New South Wales and the Northern Territory, but some have travelled onwards to Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and South Australia.
On Tuesday, South Australia dropped all border control for those people from New Zealand. It allowed 12 people who had been put in hotel quarantine to leave immediately.
According to latest figures on the website of the New Zealand Ministry of Health, there are 33 active cases of COVID-19 in the country, with 32 currently in isolation or quarantine.
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