PNG passenger let loose in Brisbane Airport tests positive to COVID-19

The Queensland Premier has confirmed a arrival from Papua New Guinea, who was let loose in Brisbane Airport’s International Terminal, has tested positive to COVID-19.

In a tweet on Friday morning, Annastacia Palaszczuk revealed three new cases of COVID-19 had been detected in Queensland.

“Two of today’s new cases were detected in hotel quarantine. One case was detected in Brisbane Airport’s International Terminal,” the Tweet read.


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It comes after Queensland Health revealed late on Thursday that two transiting passengers from Papua New Guinea were allowed to roam free in the International Terminal for two hours yesterday morning after accidentally being let into the ‘green zone’ rather than being sent straight into hotel quarantine.

The pair were mixing with 390 other passengers due to depart on three different flights to New Zealand. They also visited a shop and used the bathroom before they were finally tracked down by staff two hours later.

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Queensland Health said the pair has reportedly tested negative to COVID-19 before their arrival. They were retested, with one of the passengers returning another negative result while the other traveler’s results were inconclusive.

Further testing has since revealed he is positive.

Serology testing is now underway to determine if the confirmed case is historical.

Queensland Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeanette Young, has confirmed the international terminal has now been listed as an ‘area of concern’.

“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,” she said.

CCTV footage shows they spent most of that time in Hudson Café, had minimal interaction with other people and wore masks appropriately. The footage shows the table was also cleaned once they left.

The three 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.

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.

“We have advised the NZ Ministry of Health of the latest results and they are taking their own protection measures.”

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 said.

“We need people to wear masks in terminals at all times. We have kept that direction in place and we need people to comply.”

Queensland Health has said it will provide an update once the serology test is known.