The Victorian Government is working with the Commonwealth to ensure strict protocols are in place to keep passengers and staff safe on repatriation flights, and to protect the Victorian community once they disembark.
More than 1200 Australians are expected to land at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport over the course of the weekend after the Federal Government gave the green light for the flights to proceed.
The flights will carry Australian and New Zealander passengers and depart from Peru, Delhi and Uruguay. All passengers will be subject to strict quarantine protocols that require them to be medically screened before being transported to hotels for their 14 days isolation.
The repatriation flight from Uruguay is expected to contain a number of passengers who have tested positive to coronavirus, and the Victorian Government has sought assurances from the Commonwealth that they will be safe during their transit to Victoria. A majority of the passengers came from the cruise ship, Greg Mortimer.
Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Annaliese van Diemen said local health authorities have been working closely with the Federal Government, including Australian Border Force, to plan for the arrival of the Uruguay flight.
“Significant planning has been undertaken to ensure that the movement of the passengers and staff from the Uruguay flight is as safe as possible for them, and for the wider Victorian community.” Dr van Diemen said.
“Our team has detailed safety arrangements in place and they will be followed to the letter – to protect Victorians and protect our hospital system.”
“All passengers and staff will be screened when they arrive so we know exactly what we’re dealing with and can ensure everyone on board is quarantined appropriately – whether that’s in hospital or at a hotel.”
When the flight arrives on Sunday, it will be met by a Field Emergency Medical Officer team to assess all passengers. Ambulance Victoria is on standby to transfer any passengers requiring hospitalisation to two of Melbourne’s metropolitan hospitals.
Hospitals will also receive passengers who have not tested positive, but are displaying symptoms on arrival, for assessment and testing.
The remaining passengers from the Uruguay flight will all be transferred to the same hotel where they will be quarantined. During this time, onsite medical staff will provide ongoing support and assistance.
In the interests of patient confidentiality, no specific passenger details will be provided. The majority of passengers are Australians. A small number of passengers will board charter flights to return to New Zealand.
As agreed by the National Cabinet, all travellers returning from overseas to Victoria are now placed in mandatory quarantine for a self-isolation period of 14 days to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Reviewed 10 April 2020