Forty-five travellers from Sydney are being urged to get tested for COVID-19 and continue self-isolation on the Northern Rivers after sharing a flight with a confirmed case.
Acting Northern NSW Health District CEO Lynne Weir confirmed Monday the travellers were all supposed to have been self-isolating anyway as they were under public health orders to follow stay-at-home rules applicable in Sydney.
The passengers caught a Virgin flight from Sydney to Ballina on 14 July: flight VA 1139.
A man aboard the same flight had breached directions to self-isolate in Sydney after having a COVID-19 test on 12 July, health authorities later said.
Authorities said the man further breached public health orders by travelling from Ballina to Brisbane.
Police random-checking Sydney arrivals at Ballina airport
Ballina-Byron Gateway Airport general manager Julie Stewart fronted media on the weekend and said a lack of known local outbreaks eleven days after the breach was a relief.
Ms Stewart said police were carrying out random checks on arrivals from Sydney at the Ballina airport but that it was up to individuals to adhere to travel restrictions.
The airport general manager said Sydney-to-Ballina flight schedules had drastically reduced and there were some days without any scheduled flights.
Health authorities said people were allowed to come to the Northern Rivers from Sydney during Sydney’s lock-down if they were so-called ‘essential workers’; if they were returning home; or if they had an exemption to attend a funeral.
Some passengers aboard COVID exposure flight yet to be tested
Acting Northern NSW Health CEO Lynne Weir said authorities had contacted all 45 passengers aboard the Sydney-to-Ballina flight as of end of day Sunday with instructions to get tested and isolate for fourteen days regardless of the results.
The passengers were officially considered ‘close contacts’ of a COVID-19 case, while anyone who was in the Ballina airport between 11.45am and 12.10pm on 14 July was considered a ‘casual contact’ and would also need to get tested and self-isolate until they received a negative result.
Ms Weir said ‘quite a few’ passengers had been tested as of Monday morning and it’s believed the man was driven in a private car from the airport to Brisbane after arrival in Ballina.
State authorities in NSW and QLD were still investigating the breach.