A Qatar Airways flight has been forced to leave Melbourne without any passengers after a crew member tested positive for coronavirus.
The departing international crew member was required to return to hotel quarantine on Monday night when they received their positive result while preparing to depart Melbourne Airport on Monday.
A Melbourne Airport spokesman told NCA NewsWire the crew member was met on arrival at the airport and was isolated at the airport for a short period of time before returning to hotel quarantine.
“While on site we were able to provide isolated seating and bathroom for the affected individual,” the spokesman said.
“Once the crew member had departed, all of the areas they’d visited were deep cleaned before being returned to normal operations.”
A COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria spokeswoman said all other crew members tested negative and were able to leave Australia from Melbourne, but had to do so without any passengers.
Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville said on Tuesday eight of the 27 people who had tested positive to coronavirus in hotel quarantine since December 7 had been flight crew members.
Since December 23 all international flight crews have been tested within 90 minutes of arriving at a quarantine hotel, as well as days three and 11, depending on how long they stayed in Melbourne.
Anyone in quarantine hotels who tests positive, including airline staff, are transferred to a health hotel, or hospital if required, and have to remain there until they are medically cleared.
For international airline crew to be released sooner than their 14-day quarantine, an authorised officer requires evidence they are scheduled to leave Victoria on an international or interstate flight before the end of their quarantine period.
If a crew member tests positive they are not allowed to leave for at least 14 days and their colleagues can only do so if their plane does not carry passengers.
Ms Neville said eight out of about 1000 flight crew personnel who had flown into Melbourne in the past two weeks had tested positive.
“This is over and above the averages that we are seeing in international return travellers,” she said.
“This was an incredibly important decision to make sure that we are quarantining flight crew and we are testing flight crew, those odds are very high.”
Ms Neville urged other states to follow Victoria’s lead in testing international flight crew members.
“This is such a high risk for all of us that the country with everyone needs to follow the lead around quarantining and testing the flight crew, it is absolutely critical given the numbers that we are seeing,” she said.