The port and maritime community is being targeted for Covid-19 testing to rule it out as a source of the virus.
Everyone who has been at the Port of Tauranga since 11.59pm, Tuesday, July 21, is now
required by law to get a test for Covid-19.
This includes everyone who has worked at the port, including shipping agents, stevedores, drivers picking up or delivering cargo, contractors, suppliers of goods and services, classification societies, government agency employees and any crew members who may have come ashore.
Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns said the port is working with the district health board to provide testing facilities on site.
"As this order is likely to affect up to 6000 people, it will take some time for us to work through the logistics.
"We are grateful for port users' patience and understanding and will share more information as soon as we can."
A spokeswoman for the port said up to 6000 people have been through the gates since July 21 and those who have had contact with ships will be prioritised for testing.
She said if a test was found positive the port would follow Ministry of Health guidelines to contact trace and isolate close contacts.
"Work groups are separated at the moment due to Covid-19 precautions so it would be highly unlikely that any infection would spread far."
The spokeswoman said Cairns had also been tested.
Reassurances are being given to people who work at Port of Tauranga that following an order from the Ministry of Health on Friday night, they will not be penalised if they are unable to get tested for Covid-19 before midnight on Monday.
Director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said it was important to take a flexible approach in its response to allow the testing of as many of those as possible at the borders.
"Our border workers play an important role in doing their jobs and keeping us safe. Comprehensive testing will provide one further assurance of this and it is pragmatic to take a few more days to ensure we've tested as many of our port workers as possible."
Bay of Plenty District Health Board's interim chief executive Simon Everitt said that staff have been working over the weekend with port staff to set up a testing station on-site at the port, to ensure sufficient capacity to test all required workers. Workers with symptoms of Covid-19 have been getting tested at their GP's practice.
"We will be prioritising port staff who have been on-board a vessel in the last 14 days and/or those who have been in direct contact with crew. Testing will begin next week.
"Port of Tauranga staff will be contacted by their company to allocate them a testing slot. If a staff member is unwell or has symptoms, please seek treatment from their GP and remain off work," said Everitt.
"In the meantime, we acknowledge the uncertainty that workers have being feeling about how to organise their tests. We ask that people be patient as they will be able to get tested over the next week, and that people wait for further instructions from their employers, and allow general practices to focus on testing those people who have symptoms of Covid-19 and require testing."
EOC incident controller Dr Joe Bourne said while port staff are awaiting their test results, they can continue to work.
"Across the Bay of Plenty, general practice and Pathlab have continued to assess and test people with symptoms consistent with Covid-19. While those services have been busy, the numbers have been manageable and there is capacity for anyone who does present with symptoms."
The Covid-19 symptoms include a cough; a high temperature (at least 38˚C); shortness of breath; a sore throat; sneezing and runny nose; temporary loss of smell.