Passengers on board two flights in Queensland will have to spend Christmas in quarantine after Covid-19 cases were detected on both flights.
The state’s health department said late on Tuesday that two Virgin flights, VA1105 from Newcastle to Brisbane and VA375 from Brisbane to Townsville, have been identified as exposure sites.
“We can confirm these flights and exposure sites are in relation to a new positive Covid-19 case and more information will be provided tomorrow [Wednesday],” the health department said.
Those on the flights are considered close contacts and under Queensland Health’s rules that means passengers and crew should get tested, self-isolate for 14 days and contact health authorities.
Unfortunately, it also means they will spend Christmas and Boxing Day in quarantine even if a negative test is received, as per the guidelines.
People at either Townsville or Brisbane airports at the time of the flights are being considered casual contacts and need to self-isolate until they receive a negative test.
The news followed confirmation earlier on Tuesday of four new Covid cases, including one case of the new variant Omicron. All four were in home or hotel quarantine.
Newcastle super-spreader event grows, Queensland sticks to plan
NSW health authorities have identified super-spreading events at a nightclub and a pub in Newcastle.
By Tuesday afternoon, more than 200 people out of 680 revellers at the Argyle House nightclub on Wednesday night had tested positive for the virus.
Of the new cases, 21 were identified as the Omicron variant.
It is not known if the latest Queensland case is the Omicron variant.
Despite concerns about the new strain, Queensland Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said the state was "not going to deviate" after reopening its borders.
He said it was too early for cases to be rising in the state after quarantine was scrapped for vaccinated travellers from domestic hotspots on Monday.
Queensland's travel rules are also unlikely to be tightened because of Omicron, he said, as it is too soon to tell if the variant is causing a rise in hospitalisations globally.
"We're certainly watching that with with great interest, but we're not going to deviate from our current plan," Dr Gerrard said.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles said he's confident cases would remain manageable over Christmas with restrictions such as localised lockdowns highly unlikely.
He said Monday's border opening had been timed for when the vast majority of Queenslanders have been vaccinated, which would ensure the festive season would pass without major outbreaks.
"The modelling suggests that even as cases start to arrive, they won't be reaching peak kind of levels until into March next year," Mr Miles told reporters in Brisbane.
However, Dr Gerrard said as cases rise over coming months there's a chance an indoor mask mandate could return if there was evidence of widespread and sustained community transmission of the virus.
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