Victorian health authorities have slammed two women who flew from Sydney to Melbourne without proper permits – only to test positive to COVID while in quarantine.
Victoria’s COVID commander Jeroen Weimar confirmed the women were on board a Qantas flight on Monday afternoon.
He said neither was “on the radar” of NSW health authorities prior to boarding the flight.
“These people should not have left in the first place … it is a moot point as to whether they should have got tested,” he said.
“They should never have gone to the airport.”
The duo was stopped at Melbourne airport and taken to hotel quarantine, where they tested positive on Wednesday.
Mr Weimar said the women were carrying invalid green permits and had since been fined $5452 each.
“I am pleased to say that both women are well,” Mr Weimar said.
“They are being cared for in the quarantine program. We will work on their recovery.”
All 46 people on board flight QF471 on Monday have been contacted and will quarantine for 14 days.
“There’ll be people there who travelled under exemptions to do something really important,” Mr Weimar said.
“It is of no fault to them that they were sitting next to people who were in all likelihood infectious, and they will have to go into 14 days of quarantine immediately.”
Of the 6000 passengers checked at Melbourne airport in the past month, 190 have been placed into hotel quarantine and 65 sent back on return flights.
Mr Weimar said it was frustrating travellers were continually arriving on the wrong documentation, labelling it a waste of time.
“We have seen a growing level of pressure within the NSW pressure cooker,” he said.
“We are seeing more cases build up day by day. We see the expansion from greater Sydney into some parts of NSW.
“That is why we continue to adjust our border arrangements and controls.”
But he said Victorians should be angry with the Sydney passengers.
“There’s no point in getting angry, frustrated, we just have to do what we have to do,” he said.
“I am pleased the system worked. That is why we have those authorised officers, while we have those processes in place. That is why we have a robust quarantine system.”
The interstate cases were not counted among Victoria’s 21 new local coronavirus cases on Thursday. But the figure did include four mystery infections.
They involve a man from Melbourne’s inner-north and three cases in two households in Glenroy. One of those is a child who attends Glenroy West Primary School.
Mr Weimar said those cases were concerning for authorities.
“We don’t have acquisition sources for the Glenroy people. Normally, at this stage of an outbreak, you would want all of the people and your wider group to be known,” he said.
“The fact that this hasn’t all popped up on the radar is concerning.”
Seventeen of Thursday’s cases are linked to known outbreaks, while 15 were in quarantine during their infectious periods.
It comes as another $367 million has been set aside for Melbourne businesses struggling through the city’s extended sixth lockdown.
The Victorian and Australian governments announced the extra cash for multiple business funds on Thursday.
“This is package of $367 million to support more than 100,000 predominantly metropolitan Melbourne businesses affected that by a second week of lockdown,” Victorian Industry Support and Recovery Minister Martin Pakula said.
More than $1 billion has been put into business bank accounts since the May-June lockdown, Mr Pakula said.
Thursday’s new money is $271 million for a business costs assistance program which will give $2800 grants to more than 95,000 businesses, a $55 million top up for the hospitality venue fund, and $41 million to the small business hardship fund.
Melbourne’s lockdown has been extended to at least August 19, in part due to the emergence of new mystery cases on Wednesday.