Qld man who flew to NZ with COVID-19 ‘no risk’ to public
A TOWNSVILLE man with coronavirus who flew overseas despite being told to self-quarantine has caused "significant complications" for Queensland health authorities and sparked an international incident, but he posed "no risk" to the broader community they say.
Townsville's Ann Roberts School of Dance production manager Andre Reynaud flew back into the city from France last week and was tested for coronavirus at a Townsville GP on Thursday, and jetted off to Wellington, New Zealand, with his wife Jane Pirani on Friday morning before finding out he had contracted COVID-19.
It comes as a worker at South32's Cannington mine, about 200km south east of Mount Isa, was diagnosed with COVID-19.
The company said the man was now self-isolating at home under the management of the Townsville Public Health Authority
The delayed response from Queensland Health, which only publicly acknowledged Mr Reynaud's case on Sunday afternoon, despitethe dance school proactively informing the community on Saturday, has caused significant backlash
Mr Reynaud would have transited through Townsville Airport twice during a week where footy fans would have been travelling from across the country to be part of the 22,459 strong crowd at the inaugural Queensland Country Bank Stadium clash.
Opposition Health spokeswoman Ros Bates accused the State Government of spreading unnecessary fear and panic in the community due to a "lack of information or misinformation".
New Zealand health authorities are also seeking answers from their Australian counterparts, after confirming on Sunday that Mr Reynaud was the country's seventh of eight coronavirus cases and the first outside of Auckland.
Mr Reynaud told the New Zealand Herald that he had arrived in Townsville from France on Tuesday, March 10, which is in contradiction to information from Queensland health authorities that he arrived back from the European nation on Thursday.
He was tested at a local GP on Thursday and was told to self-isolate as he had come from an infected country, but despite this flew to New Zealand on Friday from Townsville via Brisbane on Air NZ flight 828, arriving in Wellington just after midnight on Saturday.
Mr Reynaud found out he was positive for COVID-19 when he was having breakfast with his son at a cafe near his hotel, and is now in self-isolation with his wife and another relative.
Townsville Hospital and Health Service chief executive Kieran Keyes confirmed immediate contact tracing started the moment they were notified of Townsville's first positive case and four close contacts of Mr Reynaud were now in self-isolation.
"They've already done the right thing like so many other Queenslanders who are helping us protect the community," Mr Keyes said.
"Townsville experts would like to reassure the public there is no risk to the broader community from the 69 year old patient."
Mr Reynaud's decision to fly overseas is understood to have frustrated health authorities, with Queensland Health in a statement saying his actions had "provided significant complications" and the public were reminded that they must follow quarantine and isolation procedures.
"When something like this happens, we need to work with the Federal Government, airlines and overseas health authorities so that country can keep it's community safe too, that's what we have been doing in this case," Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said.
The worker from South32's mine site underwent testing after self-monitoring symptoms that met the testing criteria.
""The employee was on rostered time off and had not been onsite for several days when his symptoms presented," the companysaid in a statement.
"We continue to monitor the situation closely and are taking every precaution to minimise any impact."
"We are providing regular updates to employees and our recommendations are aligned with those of government and health authorities,including deferring travel and enforcing self-isolation for any employee, contractor or visitor who has returned from overseas."