28 November 2020

Repatriation flight passenger tests positive for COVID-19

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Government-facilitated repatriation flight

Government-facilitated repatriation flight for returning Australians arriving at Canberra Airport. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A passenger on the repatriation flight that arrived in Canberra on Thursday has tested positive for COVID-19, ACT Health said in a statement today.

The new case is a woman in her 20s who is quarantining under supervision at the Pacific Suites hotel on Northbourne Avenue with other travellers.

ACT Health says that the woman originally tested positive for COVID-19 a month ago while overseas. At the time, she experienced symptoms compatible with the disease, but had since recovered.

On the first day of quarantine, the woman recorded a low positive test.

“We believe this represents her old overseas-acquired infection. She is not considered infectious and contract tracing will not be required,” a statement from ACT Health said.

The woman is being supported by ACT Health, but authorities do not believe that she poses a significant risk to hotel and government staff.

“Apart from stringent PPE and infection control processes, the ACT has instituted new measures to screen staff daily and conduct testing every seven days through a symptom surveillance program,” the statement said.

“‘SCan: safeguarding Canberrans’ aims to detect any COVID-19 cases entering the ACT as early as possible and will help prevent any wider spread of the virus into the ACT community”.

Although three people who landed on the first of two repatriation flights expected before Christmas were tested for COVID-19 at the airport after displaying coronavirus symptoms, no other COVID-19 positive tests have been reported from the government-facilitated flight on 26 November.

READ ALSO Three repatriated Australians display COVID-19 symptoms after landing

The “hub flight” from Singapore assembled Australians from multiple destinations and it’s not publicly known where the 120 passengers had been. It was the first international flight to land in the Territory since June.

All international travellers will be subject to 14-days of hotel quarantine in the ACT. They were tested for COVID-19 on day 1 and will be tested again between day 10 and 14.

The cost of the quarantine for an adult not in a family group is $3,000 while those in a family group will have an additional charge of $1,000 per adult and $500 for each child aged three or older.

The new case brings the ACT’s total of COVID-19 diagnoses to 117. There are two active cases in the ACT. A total of 112 cases have recovered from COVID-19 in the ACT and the Territory recorded three deaths. There are no COVID-19 patients currently in Canberra hospitals.

The number of negative tests recorded in the ACT is now 119,570.

READ ALSO Time to rethink city hotel quarantine system before another COVID-19 outbreak

Local restrictions continue to ease in the ACT. Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced this week that pubs and bars would be allowed one patron per two square metres in their indoor space if the venue was using the Check In CBR tracing app. Venues have until December 16 to start using the app.

Crowd numbers at Manuka Oval and Bruce Stadium will also be lifted to 65 per cent of the venues’ capacity.

ACT Health continues to recommend that Canberrans should keep 1.5 metres apart from people or groups you don’t know; continue good hand and respiratory hygiene; stay home if you are unwell and get tested if you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.

The ACT Government has a dedicated COVID-19 website for all information about the health and economic response to the pandemic in the ACT.

The ACT Government also has a helpline to assist Canberrans through the challenges of COVID-19. The COVID-19 Helpline is 02 6207 7244 and is available between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm daily.

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Can anyone say why we never had our share of repatriation flights? Was it because of this person bringing COVID into Canberra or the issue with only 10% of quarantined persons paying their bills?

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