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COVID-19: NSW incompetance, limited international arrival & self-paid isolation

COVID-19: NSW incompetance, limited international arrival & self-paid isolation

Australia started very well with the whole COVID-19 management thing (bar the Ruby Princess, nursing home and abattoir anomalies). Now with a major outbreak in the state of Victoria, Australia is not doing so well. And then this NSW Health ‘Doh!’ moment happens . . .

Sydney Airport – come on in. No screening, no fuss!

Our most populous state seems to have an amazing level of incompetence at our borders, whether it be Sydney Harbour (the Ruby Princess) or Sydney Domestic Airport.

Yesterday, the state closed its border with Victoria, but could it organise a look out of a window at Sydney Airport? Or indeed the screening and tracing of passenger arrivals of more than one flight at Sydney Airport at a time – ‘no’!

While an NSW Health team was occupied screening one flight, an entire other packed Jetstar flight (JQ520) arrived and disembarked without any screening. Can’t health teams read an arrivals screen? Can’t Airport officials co-ordinate arrival procedures?

Let me summarise all this: Jetstar crew were clueless about the disembarkation procedures; Airport staff were clueless about screening procedures for arrivals; and health screening staff were clueless about dealing with more than one flight at a time. And it seems like none of these organisations were actually communicating with each other. Passengers were meant to fill in contact details forms before leaving the plane, but there was no-one to collect them in Sydney.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant must be that pissed off. Twice on her watch!

Fortunately – with co-operation from the airline, NSW Health staff have emailed passengers, and requested they all attend drive-in testing – well at least if they have symptoms. And we all know requesting co-operation after the event is so much more effective than gaining compliance before passengers leave the airport.

A little bird told me, there might be a touch of non-compliance from those 180 odd passengers who arrived yesterday.

the tail of an airplane with a star on it

Sydney and other capital cities limit international arrivals

With the recent explosion of cases in Melbourne, other Australian states have become just a tad sensitive to what until now has been the main pathway of COVID-19 infection – arrivals from overseas.

Sydney has capped arrivals at 50 per flight, with a total of 450 per day. Western Australia this week will limit arrivals to 75 per day or a total of 525 international arrivals per week. Melbourne is accepting none until at least July 15. Adelaide has about one international flight a day. So it is not surprising that our esteemed prime minister, Scott Morrison (Scotty from Marketing) is contemplating a limit to international arrivals, even though many of them are Australians arriving home.

Pay-as-you-go Quarantine

State governments by-and-large have been covering the costs of the 14 days of hotel quarantine per international arrival. This is costing a fortune, roughy AU$50 million for the NSW governement to date. This figure is now bound to soar since Sydney is taking on additional international arrivals originally bound for Melbourne. On the other hand, it is keeping Sydney hotels full, when there are no other international guests.

Queensland has had enough of the expense and now charges set fees for accommodation and food. It looks like this idea might be adopted nationwide, with Scotty from Marketing endorsing the approach. There is even a bit of finger-wagging given this statement from Scotty:

“There’s been many opportunities for people to return. If they’re choosing to do so now they’ve obviously delayed that decision for a period.”

Scott Morrison (Scotty from Marketing), Australian Prime Minister
a large screen in a terminal

2PAXfly Takeout

This is another timely reminder to wear your seatbelt when seated. Holding you close to your seat will protect you from the sort of injuries sustained on this flight, when unsecured passengers flew to the ceiling of the aircraft, and then came crashing down once the ‘drop’ ceased.

The hope will be that this is an anomaly – a ‘freak accident’ in casual parlance. If it is a systemic error either mechanical or electronic, then this is a larger concern for the airlines that fly Boeing Dreamliner 787 aircraft. Let’s hope it isn’t. If it is, it will pile on the woes to Boeing’s existing stack.

Sorry for my frustration earlier in this post, but, the NSW Health Department, just don’t seem to be able to get their act together. First the Ruby Princess, and now letting a planeload of potentially COVID-19 infected passengers from Victoria disembark a plane without screening, just sounds like management can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

This is a pandemic, people!

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