Couple sat three rows from deadly coronavirus
A MEDICAL professional who sat three rows behind a Tiger Airways passenger confirmed as one of two coronavirus cases in Queensland was shocked at the response from Emergency Department workers.
Former Mackay man Mitchell Patterson and partner Claire Farquharson were passengers on flight TT566 from Melbourne to the Gold Coast on January 27, sitting in row 14.
The passenger, one of two confirmed coronavirus cases in Queensland, was in row 11.
"Claire's sister sent us a link to a Gold Coast Bulletin article on Thursday afternoon and that's how we discovered the news," Mr Patterson, who now lives in Coolangatta with Ms Farquarson, said.
Mr Patterson said the couple contacted their local GP immediately after reading the online news story and were told to go to hospital straight away.
"When we arrived at Tweed Hospital we were asked to put on a mask and sit outside in the car park," he said.
"We waited for about an hour and then we went back inside to ask if someone was going to examine us.
"Finally a nurse came out the front and took our temperature - shortly after we were told we could go home."
A New South Wales Health spokeswoman said when a coronavirus case was confirmed, it was protocol for people who may have had close contact with the infected person to be contacted.
"A close contact is defined as someone who has been face-to-face for at least 15 minutes or been in the same closed space for at least two hours, as someone who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus when that person was infectious," the spokeswoman said.
"In circumstances like when a passenger on an aeroplane is later diagnosed with coronavirus, NSW undertakes to contact passengers who travelled two rows in front, two rows behind and in the same row as the confirmed case as these are considered close contacts in these circumstances."
Mr Patterson said while neither he nor Ms Farquharson were presenting any signs or symptoms of the virus, they felt quite uncomfortable about the entire situation.
"We were told by the hospital that only the people sitting two rows away from the passenger would be at risk - we were only three rows away," Mr Patterson said.
"Hospital staff were aware we both work in Allied Health but did not seem concerned and we were told we could go back to work."
Mr Patterson said they had received an email from Tiger Airways on Thursday evening, January 30 alerting them of the situation and instructing them to contact Queensland Health.
A QH spokesman said it was in the process of contacting passengers aboard flight TT566.
"This includes contacting passengers two rows in front of, two rows behind and immediately adjacent to the two confirmed cases," he said.
"All other passengers are being advised that if they develop symptoms such as fever, coughing and breathing difficulties to isolate themselves from others and contact their local doctor or seek medical care at the hospital immediately.
"We are taking all necessary precautions."
We thank everyone for their patience. For more information on coronavirus, call 13HEALTH.