Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 9AM 9 DECEMBER 2020

Premier Peter Gutwein

It would be fair to say that we expected this day to happen.

We said right through this that in terms of doing our bit to bring Australians back from overseas, that there was a likelihood that we would see cases.

This morning, three recent international arrivals that are currently in our COVID isolation hotel at the Best Western have tested positive to COVID-19.

The woman and two children are from a family of four. The husband has tested negative.

They all arrived on the repatriation flight from Delhi last Sunday.

The positive test results were returned as part of our strict testing protocols.

The woman has developed symptoms and the children are currently asymptomatic.

Because of the age of the children and the health of the mother, the family will be moved by ambulance to the Royal Hobart Hospital, so a clinical assessment can be undertaken.

This will determine whether they be moved to the dedicated facility at the Fountainside Hotel.

They are being cared for in isolation at the RHH and full infection and prevention and control measures are in place to protect staff and other patients.

As all international arrivals have being treated as potentially positive cases since arrival, with robust infection, prevention and control measures in place at all times, no staff involved in the arrival, transportation or quarantine of the family have been isolated.

Public Health advice is that all interactions are in accordance with the prevention, infection and control protocols.

We fully expected that there would be cases of COVID-19 in quarantine because of the high risk posed by international travellers. And that is why we put such a robust quarantine program in place.

Our systems are working.

Since the arrival of the flight on Sunday, all 118 returned Australians have undergone their first COVID test.

These three cases have been diagnosed from the 91 results returned to date. The final results will be in, we hope, later today.

Another round of testing will be conducted over coming days, between day 10 and day 12 on all passengers, unless individuals experience symptoms, in which case they will be tested immediately.

While all travellers aged 12 and over returned a negative COVID test before they boarded the flight, we know it can be several days after exposure to the virus that individuals return a positive COVID result. It’s possible that that is what has occurred in this case.

This is why everyone in international quarantine are undertaking routine testing during their stays, and why our staff are also being regularly tested.

I know that this may cause some concern for Tasmanians, but I want to make the point – anyone watching the cricket last night, will have seen tens of thousands of people attending a game, going about their lives in another state, whilst they have quarantine hotels in operation.

The processes that we have put in place are in line with other states, and importantly, are best practice. We will continue to manage this situation but I want to say to Tasmanians – the fact that we have COVID cases should not surprise you. We have been clear that in bringing back mercy flights, there is a chance that this would occur, in fact, I’ve said before, around 3 per cent of returning Australians on these flights are testing positive.

I want to assure you we have strict protocols in place, we are following clinical advice and taking every step necessary.