COVID WA: Positive case flew between Brisbane and Perth

Marty Silk and Peter LawThe West Australian
Grounded. Could Qantas face the loss of market share from other airlines while its own planes are in mothballs? Brett Costello
Camera IconGrounded. Could Qantas face the loss of market share from other airlines while its own planes are in mothballs? Brett Costello Credit: METHODE

Queensland authorities are on alert about a flight from Brisbane to Perth after a passenger who has COVID-19 flew on it last week.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young says the man initially arrived in Brisbane on a flight from the Philippines via Papua New Guinea on July 3 and entered hotel quarantine.

After 14 days and three negative tests, he then flew to Western Australia on July 17 or 18.

WA authorities denied the man entry and put him in quarantine before he was put on a flight, which arrived in Brisbane at 12.55pm on July 20.

The man then became unwell while staying a backpackers hostel in Brisbane and tested positive for the Alpha variant of COVID-19 on Monday.

Dr Young says authorities are tracking down other passengers on Qantas flight 932 from Perth to Brisbane on July 20 and guests who have stayed at two neighbouring backpacker hostels in Brisbane.

“I’m glad that this is Alpha. It’s still a risk of significant risk and we still need to track through everyone has been at that hotel, but I’m confident that hotel has very good records and will be able to find everyone,” the chief health officer told reporters.

Dr Young said genomic sequencing matched the man’s case with three people who were on the same flight as him from PNG to Brisbane.

WA Health also tested the man for COVID-19, and Queensland Health is trying to get details of the results of that test.

“So I’d actually like to see that full result because sometimes there’s a cut off when you say a test is positive,” Dr Young said.

“So sometimes you haven’t met that threshold to say it’s positive, but you might have some early signs so I’m just trying to work all that through at the moment.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook said authorities did not believe the incident posed a health risk to the WA public.

“We’re getting more information in relation to this, but we understand that a person who exited the hotel quarantine in Queensland then travelled to Western Australia for further travel. They didn’t have a valid GTG Pass and were then required to isolate in a local hotel and returned to Brisbane,” he said.

“Some days later, in Brisbane, they became symptomatic and have since been reported in yesterday’s numbers to be a positive COVID-19 patient.

“We don’t believe at this stage it represents any risk to the WA public. This is obviously concerning that we’ve had another case now where someone has undertaken their hotel quarantine, left hotel quarantine and then become positive for COVID-19.”

Authorities have tested another 62 guests at the Brisbane City Backpackers HQ and the neighbouring Joe’s Place Backpackers in the city.

Dr Young said 59 were negative for COVID-19 while results are pending for the remaining three guests.

All guests will remain quarantined at the two backpackers by Queensland Health and police.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath confirmed that the face mask mandate would remain in place in 11 local government areas the State’s southeast for another seven days.

“We’re up to 13 incursions of the virus through different outbreaks in Queensland over the last six weeks,” she said.

“We have been able to contain all of these outbreaks to very small numbers, and that is in no small part due to the restrictions we’ve had in place, and particularly mask wearing and people isolating themselves at home when they’re unwell, and of course those who are on home quarantine directions.”

Queensland recorded no new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and one new case in hotel quarantine on Thursday.

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