Melbourne passengers flying in Sydney unchecked despite lockdown

Alarm is growing over lax rules for flight passengers from the Melbourne virus epicentre who are being allowed to catch public transport and potentially spread coronavirus into NSW.

Questions are being asked as to why passengers from the centre of Australia’s outbreak are allowed to fly in unchecked and potentially infect taxi and Uber drivers and their future passengers.

There are calls for everyone travelling from Melbourne’s lockdown to be treated as strictly as passengers travelling to Australia from overseas.

Currently NSW Health only recommends “anyone arriving from Victoria be collected in a private car by family or friends” but allows them to take a taxi, Uber or public transport before self-isolating.

In contrast, international travellers are taken by government-funded transport directly into hotel quarantine.

A NSW Health spokesman told that “any traveller who arrives from Victoria into Sydney domestic airport is screened for symptoms and has a temperature check upon arrival”.

However, the World Health Organisation advises “temperature screening alone, at exit or entry, is not an effective way to stop international spread, since infected individuals may be in incubation period”.

And SafeWork Australia says “temperature checks will not tell you whether a person has COVID-19 … (as) a person may be asymptomatic or be on medication that reduces their temperature”.

Former Australian Medical Association president Kerryn Phelps has criticised the NSW Government for its lax approach to border control saying “that’s a very leaky sieve”.

“I’m concerned that there are still planes coming in from Melbourne to Sydney without any checking, and people just being asked to self-isolate in Sydney when they arrive,” Dr Phelps said on the ABC’s Q&A on Monday night.

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Fears are growing that Melbourne passengers are possibly infecting NSW under lax conditions by state health authorities. Picture: Bianca De Marchi/NewsWireSource:News Corp Australia

Passengers are temperature tested after flying in from Melbourne, but may have COVID-19 and can take a taxi or Uber. Picture: Bianca De Marchi/NewsWireSource:News Corp Australia

“We don’t know how many people are actually doing (that).”

While Sydney Airport's flight board appeared to show that Qantas had cancelled all but one of its Melbourne to Sydney flights on Tuesday, the airline claims this is an error.

A Qantas spokesman told that the airport’s flight board was “pulling in out of date flight information” and that Qantas had only one scheduled flight from Melbourne, at 9.10pm.

NSW Health statement shows passengers from Melbourne are permitted to use public transport before self isolating, possibly infecting drivers.Source:Supplied

Virgin Airlines and Jetstar each had one Melbourne to Sydney flight at, respectively, 9.30am and 1.15pm.

Qantas has five flights weekly from Melbourne to Sydney and none from Melbourne into Brisbane.

Fears asymptomatic passengers could pass the virus onto drivers and then into the wider community are escalating.

Dr Phelps said it is no small cause for concern and that the flights in from Melbourne meant that the supposedly closed border is “not a closed border, that’s a very leaky sieve”.

“When we know that there are thousands of active cases in Victoria, there could be up to 10 times as many people who are infected who don’t know it.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is reportedly weighing up a cap on flight arrivals from Melbourne and other options for tightening the border.

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An infectious woman flew from Melbourne to Sydney on July 25, but could have infected a taxi or Uber driver after arrival. Picture: Bianca De Marchi/NewsWireSource:News Corp Australia

But Dr Phelps said it was now “obvious that NSW is on a precipice”.

“And yet we’re just letting people get on planes without having a test.

“Unless we take this seriously, and unless we actually have an effective closed border, we are going to see leakage of these cases from Victoria over to NSW.”

Melbourne is now under some of the strictest coronavirus lockdown conditions in the world as Victoria struggles to control active cases expected to score a grim new record of over 6500 on Tuesday with an expected new daily case number of more than 400 to expand yesterday’s new case total of 6489.

Premier Cabs Sydney told that drivers willing to take passengers from Sydney airport were exercising caution and cleaning their taxis between fares at an airport sanitisation station.

Premier’s Customer Experience Executive Chris Lee said because of the general downturn of custom from the airport with fewer flights, drivers were still keen to service airport customers.

“While masks aren’t mandatory, we have encouraged drivers to wear masks and ask passengers to wear masks if possible,” he said.

“”Although they cannot refuse a fare if the passenger doesn’t wear a mask.”

Mr Lee said drivers were “probably still a little bit worried. It's a confined space and they are taking people from Melbourne.

“It is getting desperate out there for our drivers in terms of customers and business in general.

“we will be happy when all these other smaller cases in Sydney subside a bit”. has sought responses from 13 Cabs and Uber over unconfirmed reports drivers are asking passengers for their boarding passes before accepting them as passengers.

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