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Port Taranaki Workshop cleared by Covid-19; two others still awaiting results

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A Port Taranaki worker who may have come in contact with a man confirmed to have a new strain of Covid-19 has returned a negative test result while two others continue to isolate.

The three workers were identified through contact tracking that they had potential contacts with the visiting contractor, Port Taranaki chief executive Guy Roper said in an email statement Monday.

The two were still awaiting their test results were isolating the home as a precaution, he said.

The contractor, an Auckland-based marine electronics technician in his 20s, tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday after traveling to New Plymouth to work at the port last Tuesday and Wednesday (October 13-14).

The confirmed case is from Auckland but he spent time last week working in Port Taranaki, pictured above Monday.

ANDY JACKSON / Sende

The confirmed case is from Auckland but he spent time last week working in Port Taranaki, pictured above Monday.

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The Ministry of Health (MoH) said the man was potentially infectious on Wednesday and Thursday. The case was announced on Sunday.

It is not known if the man went anywhere else while he was in Taranaki.

Roper said the man had very limited contact with staff while working on a ship, Ken Rei, in Port Taranaki.

Port Taranaki staff and users can attend a coronavirus pop-up clinic at the port.

ANDY JACKSON / Sende

Port Taranaki staff and users can attend a coronavirus pop-up clinic at the port.

The visiting contractor is very responsive, took all health and safety precautions, including limiting contact with others, and has been very helpful in identifying the few people with whom he may have been in contact, Roper said.

They are pleased that the only staff members who potentially had contact with the case while he was at the port have now been tested.

However, Roper encouraged any port staff or users who wanted to be tested for coronavirus to attend the pop-up clinic at the port.

Ken Rei anchored near Napier on Sunday as the crew waited for public health leave before disembarking.

No one on board had symptoms. The crew is being considered to have close contact with the man and is being tested.

Port Taranaki chief executive Guy Roper said three port workers had been tested and were now isolating themselves while awaiting test results.  (file photo)

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Port Taranaki chief executive Guy Roper said three port workers had been tested and were now isolating themselves while awaiting test results. (file photo)

Roper said there was a warning situation among Port Taranaki staff since the announcement, but they were continuing with the business while following health and hygiene guidelines.

Our staff has and continues to maintain high standards of hygiene and wear PPE where and when appropriate.

As an additional precaution, we have also asked staff to limit on-site meetings and reduce face-to-face contact with other port users.

The visiting contractor stayed at the Devon Hotel in New Plymouth on Tuesday evening and returned early Monday morning.

Manager Peter Tennent said the man did not come into close contact with other guests and did not use the hotel facilities.

Devon Hotel manager Peter Tennent confirmed the man had stayed at his hotel Tuesday night.

Andy Jackson / Stuff

Devon Hotel manager Peter Tennent confirmed the man had stayed at his hotel Tuesday night.

The room where he stayed has since undergone a thorough cleaning, Tennent said.

The man registered at Quest New Plymouth on Wednesday but did not stay.

Instead, he drove back to Auckland and is now in solitary confinement at the Auckland quarantine facility.

New Plymouth Quest owner Ross McCabe said the room reserved for the husband has been completely cleaned.

The man was alone in the hotel for a short period, he said

The room was not used. The bed did not sleep.

An emergency management meeting was being held in Taranaki on Monday following news of the case.

The main focus of the Incident Management Teams meeting will be about testing close contacts and border guards, said Beth Findlay-Heath, of Taranaki County Health Board.

We were making progress with all the testing, which is our big mandate, Findlay-Heath said.

Our priority test groups are those close and casual contacts, all border guards and then anyone else in the community who has symptoms.

Port Taranaki chief executive Guy Roper said there had been a warning mood since the announcement, but they were continuing with the business while following health and hygiene guidelines.

ANDY JACKSON / Sende

Port Taranaki chief executive Guy Roper said there had been a warning mood since the announcement, but they were continuing with the business while following health and hygiene guidelines.

Somewhere between 50 and 100 tests were conducted in Taranaki on Sunday, on countless people, which was a big step in recent weeks, she said.

Community-based testing centers continue to operate throughout the region and are located in New Plymouth, Hwera, Waitara and Opunake.

Now is the time to test. Do not leave chance to chance.

At a news conference Monday, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the genome sorting by the port-related issue was over.

It fits in with the scenario that this issue is a border incursion case, rather than a community case of unknown origin, he said.

The results from the genome ranking show that this type of Covid-19 is not a type we have seen before in New Zealand and is not related to any existing New Zealand case.

After the case, no new infections were found, either in managed isolation or in the community.

Tampons of close contacts of persons who had returned so far had negative results.

Authorities are continuing to investigate the source of the broadcast. However, they believed it was likely to come from a ship for which the man had worked in Auckland on 12 and 13 October.

That ship, the Sofrana Surville, had left New Zealand and was heading for Brisbane.

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