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COViD-19: Qantas Paris to Darwin repatriation crew member tests positive

COViD-19: Qantas Paris to Darwin repatriation crew member tests positive

Last Friday (18 December) a Qantas crew member travelled as a standard passenger on a Darwin to Sydney (QF841) flight, after arriving in Darwin having crewed an international repatriation flight out of Paris (QF176 Paris-Darwin departing Wednesday 16 December; arriving Thursday 17 December). Having been in self-isolation at home since his return, he has now tested positive for COVID-19.

“The crew member did not have symptoms when operating the repatriation flight or when travelling on the domestic sector, and was wearing a mask throughout both flights, so the risk of transmission is low. The domestic flight occurred more than 48 hours prior to symptom onset.”Dr. Ian Hosegood, Qantas Medical Director

The repatriation crew stayed in accommodating at Charles De Gaulle Airport prior to the flight and were observed to be following safety protocols. Qantas is not aware of any compliance breaches.

a hand sanitizer and a phone on a desk

The crew member was symptom-free during the listed flights, but started displaying symptoms on Saturday 20 December, and was subsequently tested and the results were positive for COVID-19. The crew member has since been moved to government-managed quarantine accommodation.

The crew member behaved according to existing protocols at the time for domestically based international flight crew. Those guidelines have subsequently been tightened:

“Since then the protocols have changed and operating crew won’t be travelling on normal domestic flights after operating international repatriation flights.”

Dr. Ian Hosegood, Qantas Medical Director

Qantas is cooperating with appropriate bodies, and is supporting the crew member, who up until now has only displayed low level symptoms.

“We are working with the Federal and New South Wales health departments to investigate how he contracted the virus and establish close contacts including any other crew members.

Dr. Ian Hosegood, Qantas Medical Director

You can read the full statement from Qantas, or the story in the SMH by Patrick Hatch published at 12.46 pm.

a plane flying over a cliff

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.

While many, including me have thought you could drive a truck through the ‘chinks’ in these flight crew COVID-19 protocols, in fact Qantas has not had one proven virus transmission via a crew member since March this year, despite operation over 100 international repatriation flights.

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