Twist in German pair’s quarantine dodge before Melbourne trip

·3-min read

Details about how two people managed to skip quarantine after arriving in Sydney on an international flight before continuing on to Melbourne have been revealed, with NSW Police admitting fault.

NSW Police identified the travellers as German nationals – a 53-year-old woman and a 15-year-old boy – who arrived into Sydney International Airport about 9.45am Saturday on a flight from Tokyo before being screened by NSW Health.

Instead of then quarantining for the required 14-day period, the pair travelled to Melbourne on a domestic Virgin flight, prompting an urgent warning to others on the same aircraft to immediately isolate.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed to media on Sunday a car rental employee at Melbourne Airport raised the alarm that “something has clearly gone wrong” after overhearing a conversation.

Mr Andrews said he was “grateful” to the employee who blew the whistle and while the system didn’t rely on tip-offs, it was “good fortune” that the pair were found quickly.

Passengers being screened for fevers at Sydney International Airport
Daniel Andrews said NSW will investigate how the international travellers managed to skip quarantine at Sydney International Airport. Source: AAP

NSW police admit mistake

Once the international flight from Tokyo had been cleared, the German nationals were directed to board a bus to hotel quarantine before the pair advised police they were booked on a flight to Melbourne.

Police say they made inquiries as to travel and exemptions, which subsequently allowed the pair to travel to Melbourne on a domestic flight under standard protocols for exempt travellers.

NSW Police said in a statement it had since conducted a review into the circumstances of the incident and identified police incorrectly allowed the two travellers to proceed to Melbourne.

“On arrival in Melbourne, Victoria Health advised NSW Health that the pair were not in possession of an approved exemption and had been escorted to hotel quarantine, where they remain,” NSW Police said.

The bungle has forced 176 passengers and crew on board Virgin flight VA838 that left Sydney at midday on Saturday to self-isolate while the couple, who are now quarantining in Melbourne, are tested for Covid.

Mr Andrews confirmed the passengers in question had returned negative results from the first coronavirus test, but the pair would need to provide two more negative tests if they were to be released from a 14-day quarantine early.

Daniel Andrews at a media conference discussing returned travellers who skipped quarantine
Daniel Andrews said he was 'grateful' to the car rental employee at Melbourne Airport who raised the alarm. Source: AAP

“A follow-up test has been arranged for tomorrow and because of their ongoing quarantining, they will also be tested on day 11,” Mr Andrews explained.

NSW will lead the investigation into the pair’s motive and unravel how they managed to go unnoticed until landing in Melbourne Airport.

"They are here lawfully. Beyond that, I can't speculate as to what motivated them to come or how recently they were here,” Mr Andrews said.

"Let's let NSW do their work and we can see what comes of that."

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