News Australian Open player confirms COVID diagnosis as travel protocols tightened
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Australian Open player confirms COVID diagnosis as travel protocols tightened

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A rising tennis star who had complained about hotel quarantine has become the first Australian Open player in Melbourne to be named as an active coronavirus case.

Paula Badosa’s COVID diagnosis comes after officials reported that 10 people who travelled to Australia for the tournament had been infected with COVID-19.

Yet unlike the 23-year-old from Spain, some of those were likely to be viral shedding, where someone still has the virus in their system but is no longer contagious.

Just before midnight Thursday, Badosa released an official statement via Twitter confirming she had returned a positive result.

“I’m feeling unwell and have some symptoms, but I’ll try to recover as soon as possible listening to the doctors,” she wrote.

“I have been taken to a health hotel to self-isolate and be monitored.”

The world No.67 is so far the only Australian Open player among a total of 72 competitors to reveal she has COVID-19 ahead of the season’s first grand slam on February 8.

Badosa has been isolating in Melbourne under the mandatory 14-day quarantine rule after a tournament-chartered flight from Abu Dhabi on which two co-passengers also subsequently tested positive.

It is believed she tested positive for COVID-19 six days after arriving in Melbourne.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and state and territory leaders will hold a national cabinet meeting on Friday to discuss new travel protocols.

But it won’t ease the public’s frustration at tennis players being allowed to enter the country instead of the many Australians still stuck overseas.

New travel rules

Those seeking to return from overseas will be required to have a COVID test within 72 hours of their scheduled departure to Australia.

Passengers will need to display evidence of a negative test result, and masks will be made mandatory on all international flights.

Members of a travelling party who have been household contacts of a traveller who has a positive test result won’t be allowed to travel to Australia until all members of the party are no longer infectious.

coronavirus
There are new rules for those wanting to return to Australia. Photo: ABC

Health Minister Greg Hunt acknowledged the new travel rules, which come into play on Friday, would be challenging for many.

But he said 17,500 deaths in the past day and four million cases over the past week overseas showed the need to be vigilant and the “agonising challenge” the pandemic still presents.

Mr Morrison will dial in to national cabinet from Brisbane after spending the week touring regional Queensland talking up the economic recovery.

In the meeting, medical advisers will also update the leaders on how new variants of coronavirus are being managed.

The gathering will be briefed on vaccine program planning, as the Therapeutic Goods Administration finalises advice on the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs, which will be the mainstay of this year’s program.

“The latest advice that we have and I spoke with Pfizer (on Wednesday) is that we are still on track for first vaccines to be received in February the final date hasn’t been confirmed,” Mr Hunt said.

Interstate travel

Meanwhile, Emirates has confirmed it will resume flights to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane from Monday.

It comes a week after the major airline left hundreds of Australians stranded after abruptly suspending flights to and from the three cities.

Emirates said crew operating on Australian flights are now required to get a PCR test 48 hours before flying from Dubai.

Emirates has imposed new safety measures for staff. Photo: ABC

“With the latest adjustments, these tests will be administered in their homes, and our crew will also observe self-quarantine in their homes from the moment of testing until their flight,” it said in a statement.

“Combined with the hotel quarantine and tests on arrival in Australia, this effectively means that our crew are in a bubble from 48 hours before their flight, until they return to Dubai.

“This is an added burden for our crew as individuals, for our rostering, and operating costs, and therefore this decision was made after careful review and consideration.

“We are grateful that our wonderful crew teams are very understanding and supportive, which has enabled us to quickly restart passenger services.

“The safety of our customers and colleagues is always our top priority, and as always, we work closely with the authorities and health experts in this regard.”

-with AAP