As part of the Government’s roll-out of testing for Covid-19 at all ports, the Ports of Tauranga today said up to 6000 people who have been through the ports since Wednesday would need to be tested.
Anyone who has been at the Port of Tauranga since 11.59 pm on Tuesday is required by law to get tested for Covid-19.
This testing would help determine whether the virus may have come to New Zealand from the port and maritime community, the port said.
This included everyone who has worked at the port, including shipping agents, stevedores, cargo delivery drivers, contractors, suppliers of goods and services, classification societies, government agency employees and any crew members who may have come ashore.
Port of Tauranga Chief Executive Mark Cairns said the port was working with the Bay of Plenty DHB to provide testing facilities on-site.
"As this order is likely to affect up to 6000 people, it will take some time for us to work through the logistics.”
Minister of Health Chris Hipkins said yesterday testing of port staff was already taking place and now it’s become mandatory across the 17 ports around the country.
When asked if the ports had been a blind spot for testing for Covid-19, Mr Hipkins said the Government had been working on the issue. adding that the port posed a lot of complex issues.
“There are a lot of people that move around the port on a daily basis. There will be those more at risk than others and there’s also been issues to work through around the crew that have been loading and unloading but actually aren’t coming into New Zealand,” he said.
He said this process of loading and unloading by shipping crews is an area of risk and they’ve been working on reducing that risk with testing.
The Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said for more than a month, there has been a Maritime Border Order preventing people from coming off ships.
“[There has been] physical distancing of crew that have needed to come off and unload – physical distancing for any port-side worker,” he said.