An airline passenger from high-risk Papua New Guinea who was inadvertently sent to the safe ‘green’ zone at Brisbane Airport has tested positive for Covid-19, it has been confirmed.
The infected person was one of two people allowed to mix freely with travellers who were using the supposedly ‘safe’ zone for travel within the Trans-Tasman Bubble between Australia and New Zealand.
Warning to people who were at the airport
Authorities on both sides of the Tasman have now warned passengers who were on particular Brisbane-NZ flights – or who used the Hudson Café or the international terminal – to monitor their health for the next two weeks.
“Anyone who was in the terminal between 9.45am and midday on Thursday, 29 April 2021, should monitor their symptoms and get tested immediately if they feel unwell,” the Chief Health Officer for Queensland, Dr Jeannette Young, said.
Airport staff who came into contact with the case have also been placed into quarantine, the Queensland Department of Health has announced.
Overall risk to other people assessed as low
The three flights of concern are Air New Zealand NZ202 from Brisbane to Christchurch, Air New Zealand NZ146 from Brisbane to Auckland, and Qantas QF135 from Brisbane to Christchurch.
However, the overall risk is being assessed as ‘low’ because both passengers from PNG did not mix with other people at the café and in other parts of the airport. They wore masks throughout and their seating area in the café was cleaned when they left.
Dr Young said the incident highlighted how important it is to wear masks at airports. “Both international and domestic airports are higher-risk environments,” she emphasised.
Apology from Brisbane Airport management
Meanwhile, management at the Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) has confirm there was a breach of the ‘green’ zone in the International Terminal on Thursday and said it “unreservedly apologises for this human error”.
“The breach is due to human error, and BAC is currently working with all relevant authorities including Queensland Health to investigate the circumstances of the breach.”
BAC said the two passengers from PNG were in the green zone for just under two hours before the error was realised and they were located and returned to the ‘red’ zone. Both were then tested for Covid-19, with one person testing negative and the other positive.