Superyacht with Covid-19 denied entry to New Zealand, heads to Fiji

A billionaire-owned superyacht that was denied entry to New Zealand and instead travelled to Fiji had Covid-19 onboard.

According to the New Zealand Herald, the 85m-long pleasure craft Bold received Ministry of Health approval to enter New Zealand in mid-February, but had been sheltering at Minerva Reef south of Tonga and Fiji due to bad weather.

Instead the superyacht had diverted to Fiji, saying it had been ultimately denied entry to New Zealand because Immigration NZ considered its crew of more than 20 too big a bubble.

It has now been revealed that when it arrived in Fiji on March 6, a crew member returned a positive test for Covid-19.

The superyacht’s captain, Todd Leech told RNZ the test result was either a false positive or an historical case and the man has since returned a negative result. “We are working with Fiji to keep everyone happy and safe,” he said.

“He passed four tests since coming back to work, then passed another test after the Fiji test in question so we are confident this will be resolved well for all parties.”

Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services said it was treating it as an historical case of Covid-19. It said the crew member, a 44-year-old man, was unlikely infectious and “fragments of the virus remain detectable long after the virus has passed, even after previous negative tests”.

The superyacht, owned by German industrialist and superyacht builder Guido Krass, was granted entry through Fiji’s special ‘Blue Lanes’ quarantine programme, designed for yacht arrivals, according to the New Zealand Herald. This was the first positive case on a yacht arriving through the Blue Lanes initiative, with 107 yachts having arrived since last year.

The superyacht had originally been approved entry to New Zealand under a rule requiring they spend at least $50,000 on refit work and, with the crew having been at sea for more than 20 days, it only needed to quarantine 48 hours, according to NewstalkZB.

As of last week, 54 foreign vessels have been granted an exemption for the purposes of refit or repair, and nine vessels for delivery to a business, with around 30 of these classed as superyachts (over 24m in length).

The Bold now plans to head to Australia, meaning New Zealand companies miss out on refit work understood to be worth $750,000.

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