Australia

Traveller on first repatriation flight from India flight tests positive to coronavirus

One traveller who returned to Australia on board a repatriation flight from India has tested positive for coronavirus in quarantine.

But the number of positive cases could rise as other passengers who landed in Darwin on Saturday undergo further tests.

The infected passenger has been placed in isolation at the Howard Springs quarantine site.

“I have news this morning that probably only one – they’re still subject to further testing – but only one person has tested positive in that group,” Northern Territory acting chief health officer Charles Pain said on Monday.

“So the testing that was done in India has clearly been effective and has had the effect that we intended, which was that people wouldn’t come on the flights if they were positive.”

The flight was the first to land in Australia from India since the federal government implemented a travel ban and tighter pre-departure restrictions several weeks ago.

Passengers booked on the charter flight were required to return two negative tests before boarding.

About 80 Australians who were stranded in coronavirus-ravaged India touched down in Darwin on the first post-ban repatriation flight.

ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE

About half of the 150 passengers were turned away after testing positive or being deemed close contacts of positive cases.

Some of those left behind in New Delhi have urged Australian authorities to reconsider their screening processes, given at least three passengers have since tested negative to coronavirus.

Dr Pain acknowledged being blocked must be “desperately disappointing” but said health officials were working to get those who tested positive onto future charter flights.

“It’s expected that they will re-join the testing queue, or the queue to get on those flights, as soon as possible,” he said.

“It’s expected that some of those people who tested positive will return negative tests (next time).”

India has recorded an average of 340,000 coronavirus cases during the past seven days, with about 4,000 deaths recorded each day.

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