The Australian Open has been dealt another blow after a passenger on board a third flight into Melbourne carrying tennis players and staff tested positive to COVID-19.
The Qatar Airways flight QR7485 arrived from Doha at 5.30am on Saturday, officials confirmed last night.
Every person on the flight is now required to complete a 14-day quarantine.
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The new positive test forces a further 25 players into quarantine, taking the total number of competitors isolating in hotel rooms to 72.
The positive test came from a passenger who was not a member of the playing contingent, Australian Open organisers said. But all 58 passengers, including the 25 players on the flight, now cannot leave their hotel rooms for two weeks.
The news was first revealed by French tennis player Alexandre Müller who shared a screenshot on Twitter of an email he’d received from Tennis Australia late on Sunday.
“Unfortunately we have some bad news for you. We have just been informed by the health authorities that a person on your flight … has returned a positive PCR test on arrival in Melbourne,” the communication said.
“The Chief Health Officer has reviewed the flight and has determined that everyone on board needs to isolate and will be confined to their rooms for the 14 day quarantine period.
“We know this has a major impact on your preparations for the AO and the rest of the Aussie summer. We are here to do everything we can to mitigate this impact.”
The government’s COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria confirmed the case was not a player and had previously tested negative to a test before the charted flight departed.
“All remaining 57 passengers have been deemed close contacts. Any players and support people will not be able to leave quarantine to attend training,” CQV said.
“The mandatory quarantine program takes the approach that all overseas arrivals, regardless if they have tested negative, have the potential to be carrying the virus.
“The passengers are all in quarantine hotels, where they will undergo regular testing for COVID-19.”
Trapped players who will now be unable to train for two weeks “are being supported to access equipment for their hotel rooms to help them maintain their fitness during this time”, CQV said.
The Sunday night case puts more stress on the Australian Open, which has already had four cases linked to two other charter flights bringing players, staff, officials and media to Australia.
Some players have expressed anger at being classified as close contacts merely for being on board those flights with people who later tested positive and, therefore, forced into a harsher quarantine than the broader group of players who’ll be allowed out of their rooms to practice for up to five hours per day.
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– Reported with Associated Press