A COVID-19 outbreak among hundreds of Russian and Ukrainian fishers flown to New Zealand to bolster its struggling deep-sea fishing industry has prompted that country’s largest daily increase in infections in months, authorities said yesterday.
More than 230 fishers were flown in from Moscow last week, with 18 of the crew members then testing positive for COVID-19 while in quarantine, New Zealand Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said.
The Pacific nation has almost eliminated local transmission of the virus, but regularly records small numbers of new cases in returned travelers. The fishing cluster pushed the daily tally of new infections to 25, the highest level since April, sparking concern among officials in New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s recently re-elected government.
New Zealand has recorded more than 1,500 cases and 25 deaths in a population of almost 5 million and has been widely praised for its handling of the pandemic.
Health officials said that two new cases had also been linked to a port worker, who might have come into contact with a vessel now docked off Australia’s east coast.
Broad travel bans remain in place in New Zealand and those granted exemptions — including the fishers, who were classified as essential workers — are forced to quarantine for 14 days.
Bloomfield said the new cases highlighted the threat of overseas arrivals.
“We cannot afford to be complacent, we are not being complacent at the border,” Bloomfield told media.
The maritime sector has also come under scrutiny in Australia, where dozens of crew members from a cattle ship docked off the nation’s west coast tested positive for the virus.
“It is becoming clear that ships arriving with COVID-19 on board is one of the weakest links and the biggest risk to our way of life in Western Australia,” Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said on Tuesday.
Australia as of yesterday had recorded 27,444 cases and 905 deaths in a population of 25 million.
‘WITHIN SAFE LIMITS’: Hong Kong is to ask authorities in Guangdong for updates regarding the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant and inform the public of developments The Hong Kong government is closely watching a nearby Chinese nuclear power plant following a news report that it might be leaking, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) said yesterday. The plant’s operators have released few details, but nuclear experts have said that based on their brief public statement, the facility might be suffering a leak of gas from fuel rods inside a reactor. Government data showed that radiation levels in Hong Kong were normal on Monday night, Lam said. Data from the Hong Kong Observatory showed radiation levels were still normal yesterday. A French company that helps manage the Taishan Nuclear
Until recently, the location of executed Japanese prime minister Hideki Tojo’s remains was one of World War II’s biggest mysteries in the nation he once led. Now, a Japanese university professor has revealed declassified US military documents that appear to hold the answer. The documents show the cremated ashes of Tojo, one of the masterminds of the Pearl Harbor attack, were scattered from a US Army aircraft over the Pacific Ocean about 50km east of Yokohama, Japan’s second-largest city. It was a tension-filled, highly secretive mission, with US officials taking extreme steps to keep Tojo’s remains, and those of six others executed
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In India’s capital, New Delhi, thousands of commuters yesterday crowded into underground train stations and shopping malls, prompting some doctors to say that it could lead to a resurgence in COVID-19 infections. Major Indian cities have begun lifting strict lockdowns as the nationwide tally of new infections has dropped to its lowest level in more than two months. However, disease experts and doctors have cautioned that a race toward resuming business as usual would compromise vaccination efforts, as only about 5 percent of all 950 million eligible adults have been inoculated. Doctors have said New Delhi’s near-complete reopening is concerning. The city’s authorities