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Public health expert says Sydney outbreak proves need for tougher rules for flight crews

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Article image for Public health expert says Sydney outbreak proves need for tougher rules for flight crews

A public health expert is calling for tough new rules for airline crew in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

Genomic testing has revealed the outbreak came from overseas.

Adjunct Professor Bill Bowtell from the University of NSW says the outbreak proves Australia needs a stricter approach for airline workers.

“It does raise the question of what we’re doing with quarantine at Sydney airport and elsewhere,” he told Tony Jones, filling in for Neil Mitchell.

“A week or so ago it became obvious that there were different ways in which the airline crew were being treated from passengers who were arriving from overseas. The virus, obviously, doesn’t know the difference between an airline passenger and and airline crew.

“The quarantine arrangements have to be strong for everybody.

“The airline crew have to be treated in exactly the same way as any passenger arriving. They have to go into effective hotel quarantine, they have to be isolated.”

In NSW, airline staff working on international routes have been directed to more than 25 hotels to quarantine, but may apply for an exemption from 14-day hotel quarantine to isolate at home.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian today announced international flight crews arriving in Sydney will quarantine at only two hotels, making policing easier.

Currently, in Victoria, airline crews who have been on international flights must quarantine in crew accommodation or at home for 14 days after arrival or until their next international flight, whichever is shorter.

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