The latest epidemiology report indicates that at least 45 per cent of the coronavirus cases in Australia between June 8 – 21 were recorded in hotel quarantine from returned travellers who acquired infections overseas.
The report published by the National Incident Room indicates that most of these international travellers reported a travel history to the regions of Southern and Central Asia, followed by North Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.
Revealing the source of acquisition, the report says the source of the new cases was different across states in the latest fortnight period. While most new cases in Victoria were locally acquired, new infections in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia were attributed to returned overseas travellers who tested positive in hotel quarantine.
- 45% of Australia's coronavirus cases between 8-21 June acquired infections overseas
- Most overseas-acquired cases have been from Southern and Central Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, and Europe between 8-21 June
- Three returned travellers from India test positive for COVID-19 in South Australia
The highest rate of COVID-19 continues to be among people aged 65–79 years. Three-quarters of all cases in this age group have been associated with overseas travel, including several outbreaks linked to cruise ships, as per the report.
Repatriation flights trigger fears of a spike in COVID-19 infections
More than 26,000 Australian citizens and residents have returned home on repatriation flights according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, while thousands more are expected to land in the next few weeks.
The source of acquisition outlined in the report reflects the government's repatriation efforts, a large portion of which was centred on bringing Australians home from South Asian countries, including the Indian subcontinent, along with other countries like Lebanon, South Africa, the Philippines, Thailand and Peru, some of which have lately emerged as the world's coronavirus hotspots.
Last week, outgoing Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said the risk profile from different countries around the world was also changing as the virus spread.
"The country risk profile is changing all the time. We're seeing imported cases in hotel quarantine from a range of different countries now," he said.
On Monday, three returning travellers from India returned a positive test upon returning in Adelaide, who flew in from Mumbai on a Singapore Airlines flight that carried 260 passengers on Saturday.
Among those who tested positive was a three-year-old girl, a woman in her 30s and a woman in her 40s.
South Australia Health told SBS Punjabi that none of them was related to each other. A spokesperson further confirmed that all other 256 passengers who remain in quarantine at the Pullman Hotel in Hindmarsh Square have tested negative.
While two of the three cases showed no symptoms, one of the women who has tested positive had a mild fever. The child’s parents have tested negative.
Melbourne-based Ujjval Shukal who returned on the same flight along with his wife and daughter said they were initially concerned, but are all “healthy and happy,” in quarantine.
“We heard of three positive cases in the news on Monday. We had a smooth flight and were all subjected to a mandatory pre-flight thermal screening and a COVID test upon landing. The authorities here are taking great care in containing the exposure to the virus if at all,” said Mr Shukal.
During a press conference on Monday, the state chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier said the confirmed cases posed little threat to public health and advised that anyone experiencing symptoms should get tested.
"The only way that I can be sure in this position that we don't have community transmission is that people get tested," she said.
The state today abandoned a plan to lift all its remaining border restrictions next month amid the spike in coronavirus cases in Victoria, which recorded 75 new cases yesterday, including one in hotel quarantine.
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