Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said two international passengers who managed to board a flight to Melbourne without first quarantining in Sydney may have left a queue for travellers heading to hotel quarantine.
- The two international arrivals were only discovered after they got to Melbourne Airport
- A rental car company employee found out they had not quarantined and told authorities
- More than 170 close contacts of the two travellers are currently self isolating
The two passengers who are now in hotel quarantine in Victoria have so far tested negative for COVID-19, and will be tested again tomorrow.
Questions have been raised about how the two travellers were able to bypass New South Wales’ hotel quarantine measures, and how they managed to board a Melbourne-bound domestic flight.
“It seems they are in a queue, waiting to get on a bus to go to hotel quarantine,” Mr Andrews told a press conference where he announced a further easing of coronavirus restrictions.
Mr Andrews said the situation was only discovered after the two passengers, who are believed to have travelled to Australia from Germany via Japan, spoke to an employee of a rental car company working at Melbourne Airport.
He thanked the employee, who he said had done “an amazing job”.
“We’re very grateful to them, and hopefully they’re suitably honoured and rewarded by their employer — and if we have to do something we will, they’ve done a really, really good job,” Mr Andrews said.
However he said it was important authorities in New South Wales investigated how the travellers managed to slip through the quarantine system.
“There was some good fortune there, and sometimes you need a little bit of that. We’re very keen though to have a system that’s not reliant on that,” Mr Andrews said.
The more than 175 close contacts of the two travellers, a list that includes everyone aboard the Melbourne-bound Virgin Airways flight they were on as well as a handful of Melbourne Airport employees, have been advised to quarantine.
They will be able to end their isolation if the two passengers return negative tests tomorrow.
NSW to probe quarantine breach
Mr Andrews would not comment on whether there was anything to indicate the travellers deliberately avoided quarantining in New South Wales, saying that was a matter for authorities in that state.
“No doubt they will get to the bottom of what has happened, but there will be learnings there for all of us,” he said.
New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard has promised a thorough investigation into the incident.
The Australian Border Force said in a statement to the ABC that it had cleared the two passengers upon their arrival in Sydney.
However it said responsibility for returned travellers “passes to state and territory authorities” when it comes to placing them in hotel quarantine, or allowing them to board domestic flights.
It referred questions on the matter to NSW Health, who in turn referred questions to NSW Police.