Dear Shipping Line Representatives and Port Agents
Last Sunday we were advised by Ministry of Health of a COVID-19 case related to a Contractor who visited POAL and Port Taranaki over the past week. The Ministry of Health has advised that Sunday’s case is a new case from the border and it is not related to the Auckland cluster nor community transmission.
The Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) investigations in to the cause of the Covid case of the Auckland based Marine Electronics Contractor is ongoing. The investigations are focusing on an international crew exchange that took place on a vessel at Multi Cargo. Eight foreign crew were transferred to the vessel on Tuesday 13 October. The Auckland based Marine Electronics Contractor also worked on the ship that day – we understand that they worked on the bridge. We understand that the 8 foreign crew were allowed in to New Zealand without being Covid tested. We are concerned that they could have potentially come in to contact with a New Zealand based contractor. We had thought that the New Zealand Authorities had a robust process in place for international crew exchanges, but this case has identified some significant failings.
In addition to this, the Health Authorities have instructed us to stand down the Pilot who brought the vessel in and out as well as instructing the Stevedoring Company to self-quarantine a number of their Stevedores who worked the vessel for the next 14 days. This is despite our own staff and those of the Stevedoring Company following Ports of Auckland’s robust Covid controls that have been in place since February, which include wearing the appropriate PPE gear and following distancing protocols. Because of the instruction to initiate self-quarantine for 14 days this has the potential for any future cases to put significant strain on staff availability and provision of essential services.
Until we can get clarification from ARPHS regarding their revision of this case and the processes followed and/or to be reviewed, as well as a clarification on why quarantine is necessary if staff are wearing PPE gear and following the correct protocols, we have made the decision to suspend the exchange of international crew with immediate effect until further notice. The New Zealand Authorities need to tighten up the crew change process and this point has been made very clear at the highest levels.
This decision has not been taken lightly but even though ARPHS considers the risk of transmission to Ports of Auckland employees to be low the impact of having staff now self-quarantining for 14 days can have a significant impact to our business continuity and ability to service our customers.
If you have any questions regarding this then please do not hesitate to raise via [email protected]poal.co.nz
We will keep you updated with developments as we hear from the Authorities.
GM Marine, Engineering and Multi-Cargo
For further information contact:
P: 09 348 5100 ext.1
E: [email protected]poal.co.nz