129 passengers have Covid on first cruise ship in 2½ years to dock in Wellington
Ovation of the Seas was welcomed into Wellington on Tuesday morning
The first cruise ship in 2½ years to disembark passengers in Wellington has active Covid-19 on board.
Ovation of the Seas, which carrying about 4500 crew and passengers, has docked in both Napier and Wellington in the past two days. By 1pm on Tuesday there were 129 passengers and and two crew members reported as current Covid cases
The ship had been in Vancouver, Seattle, Hawaii and French Polynesia before its arrival in New Zealand. It leaves for Picton on Tuesday evening, then goes to Sydney.
Capital, Coast, Hutt Valley and Wairarapa Medical Officer of Health Dr Jill McKenzie said there had been considerable consultation between the National Public Health Service and cruise companies to ensure liners had robust protocols in place for managing Covid-19 and minimising any public health risk to the local community.
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“Having reviewed the isolation and testing protocols in place aboard Ovation of the Seas and confirming no new issues, we are confident that Covid-19 cases are being isolated appropriately and their contacts managed in line with our current domestic settings.”
Malaghan Institute executive director Dr Graham Le Gros said that given the ship had been in the United States before New Zealand, there was a reasonable chance that the Covid on board was the BA.2.75.2 strain. The strain was already out in the community in the US.
“We are watching America very closely to see if we see more hospitalisations,” he said.
Lab tests showed the strain could evade immunity. Le Gros said it was hoped those who were vaccinated or previously had Covid-19 may get some immunity that did not show up in lab tests.
Public health constraints, such as stronger isolation requirements, could be needed if the strain became widespread in New Zealand, he said.
First off the ship in Wellington on Tuesday were Dianet and David Quintana, from Pennsylvania.
“We are glad things are opening up and love your people,” she said. “We are glad to be here.”
Their cruise, taken to celebrate David Quintana’s 52nd birthday, carried them across the Pacific Ocean to New Zealand. In Wellington, they planned to go to the Wētā Cave and ride the cable car.
Passengers were welcomed into Wellington by a group from Taranaki Whānui.
Passengers, some in pyjamas and dressing gowns, lined balconies of the vessel to watch the performance before leaving for tourist hot spots.
WellingtonNZ reported about 330 people went through Weta Worksop, which is 200 up from the previous Tuesday, and more than 1500 rode the cable car.
Cruise visits over the course of the season are expected to give the Wellington region a $30 million economic injection.
Tuesday’s arrival is the first of more than 100 scheduled cruise ship calls into Wellington during this year’s season, which runs until April.
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By the numbers
30m – The cruise industry brings about $30 million to the Wellington economy each year.
954 – That’s how many days it’s been since the last cruise ship was in port.
3000 – The number of passengers on the Ovation of the Seas.
348m – The Ovation is 348 metres long.
100 – Slightly more than 100 cruise ships are scheduled to visit the capital city this year.
60% – Australians constitute 60% of Wellington’s cruise ship passengers.