28 April 2021

Returned diplomat tests positive to COVID-19, three close contacts in isolation

| Dominic Giannini
Join the conversation
Rachel Stephen-Smith

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith has expressed her confidence in the ACT’s quarantine protocols. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A diplomat in his 50s has become the ACT’s 124th case of COVID-19 after returning from overseas on 25 April.

The man flew into Sydney Airport before travelling in a private vehicle to Canberra where he began home quarantine.

ACT Health has not said which country the man arrived from.

Three close contacts have been identified but there is no risk to the public, an ACT Health spokesperson said.

The man did not stop en route to the ACT and all close contacts are in quarantine. It is not known if the man was contagious on the flight.

“ACT Health is in communication with NSW regarding this positive case to assist them for contact tracing purposes,” the spokesperson said.

ACT Health is undertaking genome sequencing to determine if the man is infected “with a variant of concern”, such as the more contagious UK or South African strains.

READ MORE Canberrans encouraged to get flu shot with concerns over COVID-coverage fatigue

Around 80 per cent of the ACT’s quarantine for returned travellers has been conducted at homes due to the high percentage of diplomats and Commonwealth officials arriving in Canberra.

A further 1852 diplomats and government officials have undergone hotel and home quarantine in the ACT as of last week.

The ACT Health spokesperson said it was not uncommon for positive cases in the ACT’s quarantine system.

“This is exactly why the ACT has a quarantine system,” they said.

“The circumstances of this new case demonstrates that our quarantine system here in the ACT is working well to protect the Canberra community from COVID-19.”

The revelation came a week after the ACT Government said it would not be receiving any more repatriation flights, effectively ending its hotel quarantine program.

Despite concerns about the virus escaping hotel quarantine around the country, Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the decision was made on economic grounds.

Costs per flight have varied, but an ACT Government spokesperson confirmed the estimated cost of each flight would have been more than $1.1 million.

The new COVID-19 case will be included in tomorrow’s figures.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments
bungalowbill2:24 pm 04 May 21

How about using Zoom instead?

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.