New hotspots emerge after airport Covid mistake

Brooke Rolfe
·News Reporter
·3-min read

More venues have been listed as possible coronavirus transmission points after a Covid case flew to Australia from Papua New Guinea and entered a common area of a Queensland airport.

The man arrived into Brisbane International Airport Thursday morning on a flight from Port Moresby, where an ongoing outbreak is causing major concern in Australia's nearest neighbour.

He and his travel partner were mistakenly directed to the airport’s green departure zone, instead of the red zone for travellers from higher-risk countries, Queensland Health said in a statement Friday morning. 

The pair were in the same area as 390 passengers due to depart for New Zealand for two hours before the mistake was realised.

The two travellers entered Australia on Thursday and mistakenly were allowed into the green zone. Source: AAP
The two travellers entered Australia on Thursday and mistakenly were allowed into the green zone. Source: AAP

Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young on Friday declared the international terminal a venue of concern, asking those in the area between 9.45am and midday on Thursday to monitor for symptoms. 

Queensland Health on Saturday listed a café and toilet block at the airport as potential exposure sites.

Anyone at the Hudson’s Coffee stand and the adjacent seating area between the coffee stand and the white barriers between 9.53am and 11.20am on Thursday should isolate and get tested immediately. 

The same guideline applies to anyone who went to the male toilets adjacent to Gate 79 between 11.23am and 11.15pm on Thursday.

These areas were visited by the man and his travel partner, who were transiting to Doha, Queensland Health said. 

Get tested five days after exposure, advice states

Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Sonya Bennett advised people at the exposure sites at the specified time to seek coronavirus testing on May 4 - five days after their exposure.

“It is likely that all of these contacts will be in New Zealand and NZ’s public health authorities are providing similar advice to people,” she said.

One of the airport's Hudsons Coffee outlets was listed as a potential exposure site. Source: Google Maps
One of the airport's Hudsons Coffee outlets was listed as a potential exposure site. Source: Google Maps

“However, we need to make sure we capture any contacts who remain in Australia. Having viewed CCTV footage, we believe people who have been to these locations during the times of exposure face a potential risk.

“We need them to quarantine and get tested five days after visiting these locations. That is the average incubation period of SARS-CoV-2 so if they are negative, they will be safe to leave quarantine.

“This is precautionary but we are taking no chances.”

Serology tests revealed the man was likely at a late stage of his infection, meaning he posed a low risk to other passengers at the airport, according to Queensland Health. 

The pair were appropriately masked and socially distanced while in the green zone, outside of visiting the exposure sites.

The three flights affected are Air New Zealand NZ202 from Brisbane to Christchurch, Air New Zealand NZ146 from Brisbane to Auckland, and Qantas QF135 from Brisbane to Christchurch.

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