13 crew members from cargo ship anchored off N.L. are positive for COVID-19

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — A massive bulk cargo ship has been anchored off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador since last week, and provincial health officials say 13 people aboard have now tested positive for COVID-19.

In a release Monday, Newfoundland and Labrador's Department of Health said all crew members have now been tested and one person is in hospital. "The ship and crew are following public health orders as directed by the Public Health Agency of Canada," the release said. "There is no risk of community spread."

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The department didn't include the name of the ship, but online vessel tracking websites show it is the MV Federal Montreal, a bulk carrier owned by Fednav, an international shipping company headquartered in Quebec. The ship sails under the flag of the Marshall Islands.

According to online data, the ship left Montreal on April 26. It is now anchored in Conception Bay, about 25 kilometres west of St. John's.

Jim House, general manager of the Long Pond Harbour Authority on Conception Bay, says the ship has been there since late last week. He said its size indicates it likely wasn't bound for the Conception Bay port, and he assumes it took anchor there to be near medical facilities.

House said nobody on board has contacted the port authority for help, but he's ready to provide it if needed. "If there's vessels that go back and forth, bringing people or medics or whatever, we're more than happy to be able to facilitate that if need be," he said in an interview Monday.

House said the situation is "horrible" and his heart goes out to everyone on board.

"They're away from their families to begin with, and not ideal living conditions," he said. "And with the threat of a pandemic disease aboard, it just makes it exponentially harder for them."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 3, 2021.

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