Dozens of Qantas passengers onboard a Launceston to Melbourne flight earlier this month are being urged to get tested and self-isolate after a vaccinated health care worker tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after his connecting flight to the UK.
In total, 61 passengers on Qantas flight QF1542 to Melbourne from Tasmania on 2 July are affected, after the man initially tested negative for COVID prior to boarding the flight.
The man spent around four hours in Melbourne before boarding his connecting flight to the UK via Singapore, flight SQ228. More than 72 hours after leaving Melbourne, the man returned a positive COVID-19 test.
Authorities have said the order for other passengers onboard QF1542 to test and self-isolate is being made out of an abundance of caution, as currently it is believed the man actually contracted the virus in transit between Singapore and the UK.
Victoria’s COVID-19 testing commander Jeroen Wiemer said he believes it to be “an exceptionally long shot” the man was positive on the Qantas flight.
“[Officials in Victoria and Tasmania] have decided to take that very precautious stance to make sure that any remote chance of this person being positive while they were in Tasmania, or the four hours [they were] in Melbourne, that we just run that to ground,” he said.
The man’s movements before flying were being investigated by Tasmanian health authorities on Friday. He is believed to be a healthcare worker at Launceston General Hospital and had allegedly been travelling around the state before returning home to the UK.
The man was initially tested on 30 June, prior to his flight on 2 July, and returned a negative result. However, the man was tested again upon arrival in London, around 72 hours after departing Melbourne, and returned a positive result.
As a frontline health worker, the man received the Pfizer vaccine in March and April this year.
It comes as Victoria recorded its 12th consecutive day of no new locally acquired cases, after 12,005 vaccines were administrated yesterday and 19,239 COVID-19 tests were performed.
Health authorities and the Victorian Premiere announced the ease of restrictions late last week, imposing reduced mask mandates at work and increased private and public gatherings.
As restrictions were eased, Health Minister Martin Foley said, “The efforts of the Victorian people have been outstanding as we have run to ground simultaneously both the Kappa variants imported from South Australian hotel quarantine and a Delta variant that leaked out of, we suspect, hotel quarantine but still unaccounted for.
“The good news is that the position here in Victoria is stable. That means that we can ease our restrictions further.”
It also follows news that Victoria shut its border to ‘red zone’ NSW last night as the state recorded 77 new cases yesterday and the death of an infected 90-year-old woman. Because of its geographical proximity to NSW, the state has also closed its borders to the ACT.