A Qantas crew member who has tested positive for coronavirus flew from Darwin to Sydney without quarantining just one day after arriving back in the country on a flight from Paris.
Qantas medical director Ian Hosegood says the man had crewed flight QF176, which departed Charles De Gaulle Airport last Wednesday, and arrived in the NT on Thursday.
He then immediately caught domestic flight QF841 Darwin-Sydney on Friday before self-isolating at home in NSW.
The man developed COVID-19 symptoms on Monday and tested positive before he was moved into hotel quarantine.
Dr Hosegood says under government rules at the time, the air crews didn’t have to go into quarantine immediately but could fly interstate to self-isolate at their homes.
“This was in line with government approved protocols,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Since then the protocols have changed and operating crew won’t be travelling on normal domestic flights after operating international repatriation flights.”
Dr Hosegood said the airline is now working with the federal and NSW Health departments to find out how the crew member contract the virus.
Contact-tracing is also underway in the NT and NSW, with other crew members being traced as well.
Dr Hosegood said the source of the virus is a mystery because the man didn’t have any symptoms on either the repatriation flight or the domestic flights and he was wearing a face mask at all times.
He also said the Qantas crew had remained in their rooms under supervision during their layover at Charles De Gaulle Airport.
“We are not aware of any compliance breaches,” Dr Hosegood said.
“Despite operating well over 100 international flights back from COVID-hotspots- including Wuhan, the United States and Europe – this is the first Qantas crew member who has contracted the virus since late March.”
Northern Territory Health Minister Natasha Fyles is yet to be fully briefed on the situation, but NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said contact tracing was underway.
“We’ll be working with our colleagues in the Northern Territory Health Department. I’m just giving you this news which is just very recent in its origin in terms of the details,” she said on Wednesday morning.