A crew member has died and another five have tested positive for Covid-19 after an outbreak on a V.Ships-managed containership off Ecuador.

The Hamburg office of the ship manager told TradeWinds that the other infected seafarers were asymptomatic.

The outbreak occurred on the 3,534-teu Northern Democrat (built 2009), owned by Northern Shipping Holding of Germany, while it was en route from the US port of Los Angeles to Ecuador.

The vessel has anchored in Posorja, Ecuador, where arrangements are being made for the repatriation of the body.

Local authorities in Posorja were conducting an autopsy in order to determine the exact cause of death of the crew member.

V.Ships Hamburg expressed its sincere condolences to the family.

"The company’s thoughts are with the next of kin in this extremely difficult time," the manager said.

Other crew are well

Covid-19 tests were conducted by the local health authorities in Posorja.

The other seafarers are in good health, V.Ships said.

The manager is working with the Ecuadorian authorities to provide the best care for the five crew members, who remain on board the vessel isolated from colleagues.

The Northern Democrat will be quarantined in the port for 14 days.

"In the meantime, all WHO procedures continue to be closely followed by those on board," the company said. "Further PCR tests for the five crew members will be conducted on 20 June, with results expected at the beginning of the new week."

The families of the crew have been informed and are being updated by the company at regular intervals and the situation has been reported to the London Steam-Ship Owners' Mutual Insurance Association and Liberia as the flag state.

V.Ships Hamburg added that it will continue to cooperate with local authorities and take extra precautions to minimise the impact of Covid-19 and protect the health of all its staff and seafarers.

"The health and wellness of all office staff and crew is a primary concern at all times," the manager said.

The incident is the latest in an increasing list of infections on board vessels potentially due to the highly infectious Delta variant first identified in India.

CMA CGM ship diverted

Earlier in June, a CMA CGM-operated containership diverted to the Portuguese island of Madeira after two seafarers fell ill with Covid-19.

The 6,881-teu Rhodos (built 2013) docked in Funchal on 8 June to evacuate a 49-year-old Russian man and his 44-year-old Sri Lankan colleague, in an operation coordinated by the Portuguese Navy.

Local media reported that the two men were taken to hospital suffering from respiratory complications.