Urgent warning after passenger on Jetstar flight from Melbourne to Ballina tests positive for coronavirus – as shocking pictures of a crowded plane emerge
- Hundreds of passengers have crammed onto a flight to Sydney from Ballina
- Passengers can be seen seated closely together with most not wearing masks
- Social distancing on domestic flights was mandatory but those rules changed
- Qantas boss Alan Joyce claims social distancing is unnecessary on planes
An urgent warning has been issued after a Victorian man on a flight from Melbourne to Ballina tested positive to coronavirus.
New South Wales Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the man – who flew to the town in northern NSW on July 12 – was one of three cases announced on Thursday which are under investigation.
The confirmation follows hundreds of passengers cramming onto a flight to Sydney despite the alarming spike in coronavirus cases spreading through the city.
A shocked traveller snapped pictures during the Jetstar flight from Ballina, in northern New South Wales, to Sydney on Wednesday.
In the images passengers can be seen seated closely together with only a few spare seats available.
Hundreds of passengers have crammed onto a flight to Sydney despite the alarming spike in coronavirus cases spreading through the city
Several travellers can be seen wearing face masks but the majority were not.
It comes as the latest coronavirus outbreak threatens Sydney with 13 new cases recorded in NSW on Wednesday night.
A shocked traveller snapped pictures during the Jetstar flight from Ballina, in northern New South Wales, to Sydney on Wednesday
Ten of those cases have been linked to the Crossroads hotel cluster in south-west Sydney, which has now affected 34 people.
The cluster has spread to more than 20 other Sydney businesses – from Macarthur Tavern in Campbelltown to Hurricane’s Grill in Brighton Le Sands.
During the first outbreak in March, social distancing on flights was mandatory with the middle seat remaining empty, however, that rule changed last week.
A Jetstar spokeswoman said they have implemented a range of measures on board to ensure safe air travel which are based on best-practice medical advice and feedback from customers.
Qantas boss Alan Joyce claims social distancing is unnecessary on planes as there is a ‘low risk of contracting coronavirus’ because of the air filters.
‘Because the cabin’s pressurised, 99.9 per cent of all viruses, all bacteria, are filtered through medical-grade filters, they are usually in operating theatres and the air is extracted every five minutes from the cabin. The air circulates from top to bottom,’ he told the Today Show in May.
‘Everybody in an aircraft is facing the same direction with a barrier of a seat in front of them. The medical advice and the medical evidence shows there is a very low risk of transmission of COVID-19.’
NSW has ramped up its testing after an outbreak at the Crossroads Hotel in Casula (pictured: A nurse administering COVID-19 tests to people in their cars)
Dr Chant also named a number of venues where confirmed COVID-19 cases spent time including the YMCA at Revesby, Wests Leagues Club at Leumeah, Macarthur Tavern in Campbelltown and Casula Kmart
A popular burger joint, a pizza restaurant and a Woolworths store in New South Wales were forced to temporarily close this week after being hit with coronavirus cases.
Community transmissions have also been reported around the city and lower Blue Mountains.
However, earlier this week NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she had no plans to put Sydney into lockdown again despite worrying clusters developing.
‘Until we have a cure, we have to live with it. We cannot shut down every time we have a cluster of cases,’ Ms Berejiklian told A Current Affair.
‘We cannot keep shutting down, reopening, shutting down and reopening. That is not a good way for us to manage the pandemic because it creates chaos for people.
‘It creates chaos for businesses who are employing people and it makes us lose confidence in the future.’
QANTAS AND JETSTAR SAFETY MEASURES
Information sent to all customers before they fly, so they know what to expect.
Contactless check-in (via online/app) and self-serve bag drop strongly encouraged, including use of Q Bag Tags.
Hand sanitising stations at departure gates.
Temporary changes to Qantas Lounges, including increased physical distancing, hand sanitising stations, enhanced disinfection of surfaces and adjustments to food and drink service.
Working with airports on other safeguards in the terminal, including regular disinfection of security screening points and installing hygiene screens at airline customer service desks, wherever practical.
Masks provided to all passengers on each flight – while not mandatory from a safety point of view, they are recommended to be worn in the interests of everyone’s peace-of-mind.
Enhanced cleaning of aircraft with a disinfectant effective against Coronaviruses, with a focus on high contact areas – seats, seatbelts, overhead lockers, air vents and toilets.
Sanitising wipes given to all passengers to wipe down seat belts, trays and armrests themselves, if preferred.
Simplified service and catering to minimise touchpoints for crew and passengers.
Passengers asked to limit movement around cabin, once seated.
Sequenced boarding and disembarkation to minimise crowding.