News Passenger on New Delhi repatriation flight tests positive to COVID-19 in quarantine in Darwin

Passenger on New Delhi repatriation flight tests positive to COVID-19 in quarantine in Darwin

:As with the first India repatriation flight, passengers were shuttled straight to the Howard Springs quarantine centre. Photo: AAP
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A passenger on a repatriation flight from India that landed in Darwin on Saturday has tested positive for COVID-19.

NT Health says the passenger is in quarantine at the Howard Springs facility on the outskirts of Darwin.

The flight was the first to land in Australia from the COVID-ravaged country since the federal government implemented a travel ban – and tightened pre-departure testing measures – several weeks ago.

NT health authorities have said the measures are required to keep cases at the facility at a manageable level, warning they could consider slowing or again pausing repatriation flights if the caseload rose higher than a target cap of 50 cases.

Acting Chief Health Officer Charles Pain on Monday morning suggested other passengers from the flight were undergoing further testing, but that the man in quarantine in Darwin was the only confirmed case so far.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

About half of the 150 passengers intending to board the plane were turned away after either testing positive or being deemed close contacts of positive cases.

Those left behind in Delhi have since urged authorities to reconsider their screening processes after the ABC revealed at least three of the rejected passengers have since tested negative to COVID-19.

Dr Pain acknowledged those people were disappointed and warned more people could return negative tests upon further screening.

“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.

“That’s the way it works, I’m afraid. We welcome those people when they come on future flights.”