Coronavirus breach allows passengers on Melbourne flight to leave Sydney airport without screening

One-third of passengers onboard the flight left Sydney airport before being screened.

The plane landed on Tuesday.

The plane landed on Tuesday. Source: AAP

In a major breach of health protocols, 137 passengers arriving at Sydney airport from Melbourne were allowed to disembark without being screened for coronavirus.

The passengers flew onboard Jetstar flight JQ250 and touched down in Sydney just before 7pm on Tuesday.

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said the health team responsible for the screening were occupied with another airplane at the time of the flight's arrival.

"There was an issue at the airport where passengers were disembarked when the health screening team were screening another airline," Dr Chant told reporters on Wednesday.

"The airport has now put in protocols to ensure that the health teams are there and able to do the screening and no one's allowed to disembark before that happens."

In a statement, a spokesperson for NSW Health said airline staff allowed passengers to leave the gated area, breaking screening protocols.

Once alerted to the breach, health officials, airport staff and police acted to bring 89 of the 137 passengers back to the gate to be screened.

Forty-eight passengers had already left the terminal, with NSW Health making arrangements with 45 travellers to conduct screenings.

Three remaining passengers who refused screenings have been referred to NSW Police.

"If anyone has travelled in breach of any orders we will refer them to police and take the appropriate action depending on whether anyone is symptomatic to ensure that the community is protected," Dr Chant said.

Victorian health authorities are also conducting temperature and ID checks for all travellers departing the state, so the passengers should have been screened prior to taking off.

A spokesperson for Jetstar said the airline has helped to locate passengers and provided a flight manifest.

"Together with Sydney Airport, we have refined our disembarkation procedures to prevent this situation occurring again," the spokesperson told SBS News.

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3 min read
Published 8 July 2020 at 3:29pm
By Naveen Razik