27 November 2020

Three repatriated Australians display COVID-19 symptoms after landing

| Dominic Giannini
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Government-facilitated flight for returning Australians will be arriving at Canberra Airport Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Three people who landed in Canberra yesterday (26 November) on the first of two repatriation flights expected before Christmas have been tested for COVID-19 at the airport after displaying coronavirus symptoms.

Around 120 people landed in Canberra from Singapore but because the flight was a “hub flight” where people made their way to Singapore from various countries, the exact locations of where the travellers came from are not known.

It is the first international flight to land in the Territory since June.

All 120 travellers will be subject to 14-days of hotel quarantine in the ACT and will be tested for COVID-19 on day 1 and between day 10 and 14.

Two of the 120 passengers arriving in Canberra. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The arrivals were met at the airport by Australian Defence Force personnel and ACT Health officials and underwent health screenings. They will be staying at the Pacific Suites Canberra, which is now closed to the public until 21 December.

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 price includes a Deliveroo and Red Baron grocery voucher. Arrivals are paying for their own stay.

Additional precautions such as ongoing surveillance of symptoms and regular testing of hotel staff and government employees in contact with returned travellers have been put in place to further protect the ACT community after Jane Halton’s review of hotel quarantine was handed down.

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

The review did not identify any need for dramatic changes to the ACT’s hotel quarantine program “but there are some good recommendations around the separation of international from regular domestic guests in a hotel context”, Chief Minister Andrew Barr said previously.

The flight landed on the same day that the ACT was declared to be COVID-19 free again after the last case recovered. The last two cases in the ACT have been from returned diplomats who followed quarantine instructions from ACT Health and posed a very low risk to the public, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said.

“We do the same assessment for diplomats as we do for anyone else who is going into home quarantine,” she said. “If they have family or staff who have quarantined with them, then they are subject to exactly the same quarantine rules.

“This is a demonstration that our quarantine program is doing exactly what we want it to do. These are not the cases we are concerned about. The cases we are concerned about are the ones that are locally acquired or potentially evidence of community transmission.”

The most recent information on the ACT’s COVID-19 restrictions is on the COVID-19 website. You can also report non-compliance via the COVID-19 Helpline on 6207 7244 (8:00 am to 8:00 pm, seven days a week).

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