I said to him straight away, Just dont send them anywhere, hold them for a minute, I need to confirm whats going on. I thought if they havent quarantined, then this is a big problem.
Security guard Claudio Cominotto made the crucial call after spotting the two travellers.
It certainly was a big problem. Hotel quarantine for international travellers was not due to resume in Victoria for another two days, with the failure of the first program still fresh in the minds of those who lived through lockdown.
And then there was the fact COVID-19 had been eliminated in Victoria after more than a month without a case. Any international arrivals could be carrying the virus, threatening to plunge the state into another round of restrictions.
With that urgency in mind, Mr Cominotto was told to double check what the two German travellers were telling him.
He said, Ill ask them again and Ill confirm 100 per cent. They still advised him it was definitely no quarantine in Sydney, said Mr Mikha.
I was bit shocked because I thought, That is impossible.
As it turned out, the quick-thinking Wilson Security guards had prevented a mistake by a NSW police officer from turning into a potential disaster.
When the travellers had arrived in Sydney from Tokyo, an officer believed they had an exemption from hotel quarantine and did not properly check their paperwork.
They were pointed in the direction of the departure lounge and boarded a flight to Melbourne.
In Melbourne the German-Australian dual nationals were told they could not leave and were escorted at a safe distance to another terminal so the Health Department could speak with them. The pair were subsequently put into isolation, the first arrivals in the states revamped hotel quarantine program for international travellers.
They were very compliant, very friendly, wearing masks with the correct PPE [personal protective equipment] on, said Mr Mikha.
They let us know everything we wanted, there was no question. They did not want to avoid it, they were looking for quarantine.
The bungle exposed more than 170 passengers on the Sydney-Melbourne flight to potential infection. Five Melbourne Airport staff who were identified as close contacts, including Mr Cominotto, were also told to self-isolate.
The mother and son returned a negative coronavirus test on Saturday.
Mr Mikha acknowledged there was a bit of luck involved in being in the right place at the right time, but he said the team had done a great job.
If [the travellers] didnt find the right person to talk to they could have been directed anywhere, he said. When he [Mr Cominotto] advised me, he was shocked as well, he didnt realise this was possible.
Wilson Security chief executive Nick Frangoulis said the pair would be recognised internally for their efforts.
Premier Daniel Andrews has also publicly expressed his thanks, while Health Minister Martin Foley has spoken to Mr Mikha privately.
I said to him it was like we saved Victoria or even Australia, Mr Mikha said.
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