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Covid 19 coronavirus: Viking Bay plan to be announced this afternoon; no new community cases

The Government will make an announcement this afternoon about a plan for the Viking Bay to safely return to New Zealand.

The Spanish-flagged deep-sea fishing vessel has been anchored offshore since last week with two Covid-positive crew aboard.

The Ministry of Health said in a statement this afternoon the ship’s return to New Zealand shores “has been assessed as having a very low health risk to the public”.

Comprehensive health checks, including testing of crew, would be part of the plan to allow the vessel to return.

The ministry said on Friday the Viking Bay was expected to return to New Zealand early next week, but details – including which port the ship would dock at – were still being finalised.

After Port Taranaki officials refused to allow the ship to berth at New Plymouth last week, Ports of Auckland said it would allow the vessel access to its quarantine anchorage near Rangitoto Island.

No new community cases

There are no new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today and three cases in MIQ.

Those three cases tested positive since the Ministry of Health’s last update on Friday.

Another case, which had previously been reported positive, has now been reclassified to “under investigation” and has been removed from the Government’s official case tally.

The three positive MIQ cases travelled from the UK, Malaysia and Russia.

NSW cases surge

Today’s update comes as NSW records 77 new locally acquired Covid-19 infections – the highest daily tally during the latest Sydney outbreak.

NZ on Friday cancelled flights from NSW that were due to bring between 2000 and 2500 Kiwi travellers home.

“We won’t be resuming green flights from [NSW] until we’re confident that the risk there is contained,” Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said.

The Government would look to resume the flights, but people on them would have to spend 14 days in MIQ on their return, he said. They wouldn’t be charged for their stay.

Hipkins indicated on Friday that the halt on flights from NSW would last for at least three days.

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