/Traveller who accidentally breached green zone at Brisbane airport tests positive to COVID-19 – ABC News

Traveller who accidentally breached green zone at Brisbane airport tests positive to COVID-19 – ABC News

A traveller, who unwittingly entered a common area of the Brisbane International Airport yesterday after arriving on a flight from Papua New Guinea, has tested positive to coronavirus.

Key points:

The man and his travel partner had been in transit on a flight from Port Moresby, a coronavirus hotspot, and were accidently allowed into the “green zone” at the departures terminal on Thursday morning. 

For one and a half hours the pair shopped and used public toilets before being retrieved.

They were wearing masks and were socially distancing.

Nearly 400 travellers awaiting three different flights to New Zealand were in the departures terminal at the time.

The man’s test was inconclusive yesterday, but more samples were sent to Queensland Health’s Forensic and Scientific Services laboratory and Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said he returned “a clear positive result” today.

The departure terminal at the Brisbane International Airport.

ABC News: Michael Rennie

“That suggests to me, as well with the serology results, that he’s right at the end of his illness — he could almost be fully recovered,” she said.

“We know that the risk is always in that 48 hours before someone develops symptoms, at the start of their illness. He’s right at the end and he’s well.

“The risks are all adding up to be less and less and less.”

The man’s travel partner has returned a negative test.

Dr Young has declared the international terminal a venue of concern.

Queensland COVID-19 snapshot:

Anyone who visited between 9:45am and midday on Thursday should monitor their symptoms and get tested immediately if they feel unwell.

Dr Young said CCTV footage showed the two spent most of their time in Hudson Café, had minimal interaction with other people and wore masks appropriately.

The footage also showed that the table was cleaned once the pair left the cafe.

Dr Young said while the risk of Queenslanders being infected was low, she was taking precautions.

“Staff who came into contact with this case have been placed into quarantine,” she said.

Airport terminal blocked off with red signs.

ABC News: Jennifer Huxley

Nearly 400 travellers put at risk

Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) confirmed the incident was a result of human error and the breach was being investigated.

A BAC spokesperson said the pair were “accidentally” let into the international airport’s green zone at 9:55am Thursday after arriving on an Air Niugini flight.

They were in transit and due to board a Qatar airlines flight later in the day.

Currently all overseas arrivals except for those from New Zealand must stay in “red zone” areas of the airport.

During the period the infected traveller was in the green zone, three flights to New Zealand departed, taking approximately 390 passengers.

The flights affected are Air New Zealand NZ202 from Brisbane to Christchurch, Air New Zealand NZ146 from Brisbane to Auckland, and Qantas QF135 from Brisbane to Christchurch.

“We believe the passengers were only in the vicinity of a small number of people,” a BAC spokeswoman said.

“It will be up to Queensland Health to determine who of these had close contact with them and they will be liaised with directly by Queensland Health.”

Queensland authorities have advised the NZ Ministry of Health of the latest results and they are taking their own protection measures. 

Whispers on plane raises alarm

Brisbane International Airport.

ABC News: Michael Rennie

Brisbane woman Karryn Wheelans knew nothing of the airport breach until she and her husband landed in Christchurch.

“There was a lot of whispering going on at the front of the plane,” she said.

“I knew something was going down and the air bridge wasn’t coming out.

“Then finally we were told that a PNG flight had some passengers that had breached the transit lounge and they were assessing the risk of us, before we could disembark.”

At that stage, there was no suggestion that either of the PNG travellers had tested positive to COVID-19.

Ms Wheelans said passengers spent around 45 minutes on the tarmac before they got the all clear.

“We were at the mercy of the health ministry in New Zealand and I just wonder what would have happened if the flights were in reverse,” she said.

“If we have to go and get a test, obviously we’ll go and do that. We don’t want to expose anyone here potentially to COVID and we want the [travel] bubble to remain open.”

Ms Wheelans and her husband, who are staying with family in Christchurch, are due to return home on an Air New Zealand flight on Monday.