A member of Virgin Australia cabin crew has triggered a COVID-19 health alert after testing positive for COVID-19 after working on five flights in the last 24-hours. The crew member was a close contact of an existing COVID-19 case identified in Sydney’s growing outbreak but contact tracers hadn’t yet got round to getting in touch with them and order them into quarantine.
The Sydney-based crew member tested positive following a routine rapid results test on Saturday, Virgin Australia said. The crew member was immediately put into quarantine and health officials notified.
Colleagues who the crew member worked with over the last few days have already been informed and ordered to isolate, while potentially hundreds of passengers that the flight attendant worked in the last 24-hours will also be quarantined.
On Friday, the crew member worked a flight from Sydney to Brisbane and back and then worked a third flight to Melbourne where they stayed in a Holiday Inn hotel overnight. The crew member then flew back to Melbourne before working a flight to Gold Coast and back.
All the passengers on all five flights are being contacted and told to get tested and then isolate for 14-days regardless of the results of their test.
“The aircraft this crew member has flown on are being deep cleaned overnight, as are any Virgin Australia spaces the crew member visited. Virgin Australia is working with the relevant airports to ensure all public spaces are also being deep cleaned,” the airline said in a statement on Saturday evening.
“The affected crew member is a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case from a known cluster in Sydney. Virgin Australia understands the crew member was not aware they were a close contact of a positive case until after they completed their last flight today,” the statement continued.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the flight attendant had been vaccinated against covid-19 or had been offered the vaccine.
Virgin Australia said the crew member always wore a face mask onboard and “adhered to infection control and COVID safe protocols implemented by Virgin Australia throughout the course of duty.” The airline was providing support to the crew member, a Virgin Australia spokesperson said.
Some areas of Sydney were plunged into a two-week lockdown on Saturday as officials struggled to contain a worsening outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant. New South Wales recorded 82 locally acquired cases on Saturday and 82 locally acquired have been identified since June 16 when the cluster started.
The ‘index’ case was a bus driver who is believed to have been infected while driving a group of international cabin crew. The driver is alleged not to have worn a face mask or followed other public health guidance to minimise risk. He was also eligible for vaccination but was jet to be jabbed.
Photo Credit: Virgin Australia
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.