LATEST UPDATE: Thurday, Jan. 21:
Marine Atlantic’s Corporate Communications Officer Darrell Mercer has advised that a second crew member has tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the MV Blue Puttees will remain dockside in Nova Scotia and the MV Atlantic Vision will enter service this evening, Thursday, Jan. 21.
UPDATE as of Wednesday, Jan. 20:
Local sources have indicated that the crew member who tested positive for COVID-19 is not a resident of the Southwest Coast, nor even this province.
Responding to further inquiries, Corporate Communications Offer Darrell Mercer wrote via e-mail that, “I can confirm that Nova Scotia public health is leading this contact tracing based upon where the employee is located.”
Passengers who travelled between North Sydney, Nova Scotia and Port aux Basques, Newfoundland between December 29, 2020 and January 16, 2021 are advised to contact their provincial health authority. In Newfoundland, travellers are advised to contact 811 to determine whether or not they require testing.
The MV Blue Puttees has been pulled from service after a crew member tested positive for COVID-19. The vessel is currently being held dockside in North Sydney, Nova Scotia to facilitate further testing, and contact tracing is also underway.
“Approximately 125 employees are being tested, with approximately 65 isolating on the ferry with the current shift. The crew member in question followed all COVID-19 protocols, including wearing a mask and working behind plexiglass barriers, but may have had limited interaction with customers and employees. Our understanding is that NS Public Health and NL Public Health will be issuing advisories to passengers for select dates to monitor their health and contact 811 for further advice,” stated Darrell Mercer, Corporate Communications Officer, via e-mail.
In a prepared statement, Marine Atlantic confirmed that officials from Nova Scotia Public Health had notified the Crown corporation about the positive test on Tuesday, Jan. 19. Prior to that announcement, social media had been circulating screenshots of a letter allegedly handed to passengers prior to boarding the Tuesday evening crossing.
“The Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador health authorities have identified, out of an abundance of caution, that all crew members who were on the vessel and completed their shift as well as all crew members currently on the vessel will be tested.”
According to the statement, the vessel itself will also undergo a through cleaning.
As a result of the testing, today’s scheduled crossing by the Puttees for the 11:45 North Sydney to Port aux Basques and 23:45 return trip have been cancelled. While the Blue Puttees remains tied up, the MV Highlanders will continue its run, and the MV Atlantic Vision will also slide into the schedule as required.
Keep checking back for updates as more information becomes available.