Two international travellers who flew to Melbourne instead of going into hotel quarantine in New South Wales have returned a second negative result for COVID-19.
- The pair flew from Sydney to Melbourne directly after arriving from overseas
- NSW Police has apologised for the breach of the state’s quarantine system
- The more than 170 close contacts of the travellers can now stop isolating
The travellers, a 53-year-old woman and her 15-year-old son, arrived in Sydney on Saturday from Frankfurt, Germany via Tokyo, Japan and boarded a domestic flight to Melbourne without quarantining in New South Wales.
The negative test means the pair’s more than 170 close contacts, who have been in self-quarantine, are now free to end their isolation.
That figure included all passengers and crew on the Sydney-to-Melbourne Virgin Airways flight the pair were on, plus five staff members at Melbourne Airport.
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“The two international travellers are not showing symptoms of COVID-19 and have had no known contact with a positive coronavirus case,” Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) said in a statement.
“They will remain in mandatory quarantine for 14 days and will be tested again on day 11 of their quarantine.”
NSW Police is responsible for getting all passengers without exemptions to hotel quarantine.(AAP: Bianca De Marchi)
NSW Police yesterday apologised for the mishap and said it would be reviewing and strengthening its practices at Sydney International Airport in response to the incident.
The system failure has been labelled a potential “Ruby Princess 2” by public health expert Bill Bowtel, who told the ABC there should be a public inquiry into what went wrong.
The pair are German-Australian dual citizens, and it is believed a misunderstanding with a police officer at the airport contributed to the mistake.
The officer falsely believed the pair had an exemption from entering quarantine in New South Wales, and the two travellers were escorted to the domestic terminal for their flight to Melbourne.
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Once there, a security officer overheard a conversation between the pair.
They appeared confused and told the security guard they needed to enter hotel quarantine in Melbourne.
The guard alerted DHHS and the two travellers were subsequently escorted to hotel quarantine.
Exemptions to hotel quarantine are rare for international travellers arriving in Sydney and are only given on medical or compassionate grounds, or if the person is transiting out of NSW to another international destination.
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