Two ships anchored off N.L. because of COVID-19, port worries it will become a trend

·2 min read

CONCEPTION BAY SOUTH, N.L. — The general manager of a Newfoundland harbour authority says he hopes the arrival of a second ship anchored offshore with COVID-19 cases on board doesn't signal a trend.

Newfoundland and Labrador's Department of Health announced Tuesday that a second ship anchored in Conception Bay had COVID-19 infections among its crew.

"These poor folks, I mean, look, it's a humanitarian concern," Jim House, general manager of the Long Pond Harbour Authority, just west of St. John's, said in an interview Tuesday. "But I really hope that this does not turn into a safe haven story for COVID boats."

The latest ship to arrive had five people on board with COVID-19, the Department of Health said in a news release, and one of the cases had to be taken to hospital. Testing of the entire crew is ongoing, and everyone on board is following public health orders as directed by the Public Health Agency of Canada, the department said.

The cases on the first ship were announced last week. As of Tuesday, everyone on that vessel had been tested, and 14 COVID-19 cases had been identified, the department said, adding that neither ship poses a risk to the community.

In May, a bulk carrier owned by Fednav, an international shipping company headquartered in Quebec, also anchored in the bay while its crew quarantined. Public health officials confirmed 14 cases on board, and the ship remained in the bay until all the cases had recovered.

House said he doesn't know why the ships chose to anchor in Conception Bay. The port of Long Pond, which he manages, operates on a first-come, first-served model. It's a busy time of year, he said, and there aren't spaces open for the vessels to dock.

He said he couldn't confirm the ships' names or where they'd come from. Marine traffic websites indicate the Iver Ambition, an asphalt and bitumen tanker sailing under the Italian flag, is stationary in the water just off the port and was scheduled to be in Trois-Rivières, Que., on July 5.

Just beside it sits the Princesa Santa Joanna, a 92-metre factory fishing trawler flying under the Portuguese flag. The ship left Portugal on June 24, according to vesselfinder.com, but it's unclear where it was heading.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 13, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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