A fully vaccinated quarantine hotel worker is believed to have passed COVID-19 from an infected flight attendant to another flight attendant who was staying on a completely different floor in what health officials believe is a world first.
The flight attendant only found out she had been infected after being released from two weeks in hotel quarantine in Brisbane on Saturday morning. By the time her positive result came back, the flight attendant had already been to a busy shopping mall and a restaurant.
She had spent two weeks in quarantine at a hotel used only by flight attendants after flying from Portugal via Dubai to start a job in Australia. She had been identified as a close contact of a passenger onboard the Emirates flight from Dubai who tested positive for the Delta variant but genome sequencing revealed this wasn’t the source of her infection.
Instead, she tested positive for the same variant as another flight attendant who had travelled on a different flight from Mongolia and who was staying on a completely different floor of the hotel.
Health officials believe a hotel worker may have passed the virus from the infected flight attendant after she escorted him to an ambulance during his stay at the hotel. She then went upstairs to take a swab from the other flight attendant.
It’s suspected that the virus was passed on by fomite transmission. The hotel worker, who was fully vaccinated and wearing personal protection equipment, did not catch COVID-19.
Around 50 close contacts have already been identified who will need to spend two weeks in isolation. Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young has, however, downplayed the risk to the community after it was confirmed the flight attendant had been infected with the Alpha variant.
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Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.