SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s most populous state on Wednesday reported its first coronavirus case in nearly two weeks after an airport worker tested positive prompting authorities to suggest international flight crews should also quarantine after arriving.
A 45-year old man who shuttles international airlines staff to the airport tested positive for COVID-19, New South Wales (NSW) state Health Minister Brad Hazzard told reporters.
Hazzard said the government will talk to international airlines in the next 48 hours to suggest changes to existing quarantine rules for air crew.
“The inclination at this time is… that international aircrews coming into New South Wales will most likely be required to quarantine in the same way as any other international visitors,” he said.
Returning travellers from overseas are required to be quarantined for 14 days but Hazzard said airline crews need not go through the mandatory isolation for the same duration.
“As the virus seemed to be contained in terms of community transmission, our most exposed areas are principally around our borders… we may be an island but we are not totally isolated from the pandemic that is raging across the world,” he said.
Australia has largely contained the community transmission of the virus and last reported a local case on Dec. 3 when a hotel quarantine worker in Sydney tested positive for the virus.
Australia has reported just over 28,000 cases of COVID-19 and 908 deaths since the pandemic began but estimates there are less than 50 active cases remaining, mostly returned travelers from overseas in hotel quarantine.
(Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Michael Perry)