ACT Health officials have started quarantining 207 Australians after they arrived in Canberra today on a Qantas flight from New Delhi. Organised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the flight brought the Australians home after they had been unable to return from India earlier due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
The flight touched down at Canberra Airport this morning (15 May) and passengers were met by health officials and police. Buses then transported the passengers to a number of undisclosed hotels where they will be quarantined for 14 days before being allowed to travel to their homes.
The passengers were screened for COVID-19 symptoms before leaving India and were screened again on arrival in the ACT.
Further flights are scheduled to leave India although no further arrivals are expected in Canberra.
The ACT has again recorded another day with no new cases of COVID-19. It’s the 11th day in a row the ACT has achieved the milestone, but ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman has urged Canberrans to continue to be responsible despite the easing of social distancing restrictions.
“Just because restrictions have eased, it doesn’t mean our responsibilities have. As a community, we must adjust to the new way of life where physical distancing and good hygiene is the best way to fight this virus,” Dr Coleman said.
“This weekend Canberrans will be able to start doing some of the things they love and enjoy such as going to a playground or park, grabbing a bite to eat at a restaurant or café or getting back into non-contact community and social sport.
“However in doing so, Canberrans must continue to avoid large crowds, maintain physical distancing of 1.5 metres from others, practise good hand and respiratory hygiene and stay at home if unwell.
“We’ve seen examples overseas where a lapse in concentration has led to a resurgence in cases and this is why we are taking a controlled and strategic approach to the easing of restrictions, in line with the best medical advice.”
Dr Coleman said the expansion of testing to anyone with COVID-19 symptoms will continue.
“If you believe you have COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath, sore throat or a cough, please get tested. Either call your general practitioner or present at one of the designated testing sites.
“In addition, people who have a sudden onset of loss of smell, loss of taste, runny nose, muscle pain, joint pain, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite may be eligible for COVID-19 testing after assessment by a health professional,” Dr Coleman said.
The ACT’s total of positive tests remains at 107, while the number of negative tests in the ACT is now 13386. Three people have died from the virus.
All people who are tested should self-isolate until they receive a negative test result.
The ACT Government has established a dedicated COVID-19 website for all information about the health and economic response to the pandemic in the ACT. For further information visit www.covid19.act.gov.au.
The ACT Government has also established a helpline to assist Canberrans through the challenges of COVID-19. The COVID-19 Helpline is 6207 7244 and open between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm daily.
People who are concerned and want further information on the virus can also call the Australian Government’s Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.