Russian fishing crew not feeling too unwell, says Sealord boss

Sudima Hotel
Sudima Hotel in Christchurch ...where the first 200 crew on a charter flight from Russia began managed isolation. Image: RNZ

By RNZ News

Hundreds of Russian fishing crew at a New Zealand covid isolation hotel in Christchurch are said to be in good spirits and those who have the virus are doing well.

Eighteen of the 237 foreign workers at the Sudima Hotel are infected with covid-19.

They will all be tested again today with more positive cases expected.

Sealord is one of the three companies which bought the crew into the country to work on its deep-sea trawlers.

Chief executive Doug Paulin managed to speak to some of them yesterday.

“We’ve been able to find out that they’re feeling positive, they’re feeling well looked after.

“They appreciate the lengths that the facility are going to to make sure they’re kept isolated and that protocols are being followed.”

No ‘adverse affects’
Those who have tested positive are not feeling too unwell he said.

“As far as we know none of them have any significant adverse affects [and are] feeling very well-managed in that facility.”

Paulin said they understood they would probably have to stay in isolation longer.

That also meant the trawlers were left sitting in port but he said that was not the company’s top priority.

“Our concern is around the welfare of our crew, there will likely be a delay because the Ministry of Health need to work through everyone being covid-19 free before they leave the facility then it needs to be cleaned before the next plane arrives into the country.”

Anna Filippochkina from the Russian Cultural Centre in Christchurch is worried about the crew being sick so far from home.

She has not spoken to the crew directly but expects anyone in their situation would find it stressful.

“They might feel lonely, they don’t know what to expect in the future so support from the community is very important and that’s what we want to do.”

She said the Russian community is going to come up with a plan to make the workers feel more at home.

Next chartered flight may be delayed
Health Minister Chris Hipkins told RNZ Morning Report the next chartered flight, due on November 2, could be delayed.

“The next charter flight will not come to New Zealand until we have cleared this one which means that it will be delayed if we need to because we don’t want to overcrowd that facility,” he said

“There is a lot of cooperation from the fishing companies who are chartering these flights, bearing in mind that this is the facility that they are paying for, that this is 100 percent their cost and they are being cooperative.”

Hipkins said the ministry would need the majority of the crew currently staying at the Sudima to have been released before the next plane can arrive.

He said a review found all the PPE requirements had been met at the Sudima and the transport from the airport to the hotel.

This article is republished by the Pacific Media Centre under a partnership agreement with RNZ.

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