Authorities are working to find and contact passengers who sat near a woman with coronavirus on a plane returning to Sydney from Iran.
The woman in her 50s started to experience COVID-19 symptoms soon after she arrived back in the country on Qatar Airways Flight QR 908 on February 23.
Passengers on the flight have been asked to be alert to symptoms and NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Monday said authorities were investigating the woman’s exact position on the plane.
“Anybody on that flight QR 908 that arrived on the 23rd of February at 6.50 p.m. into Sydney Airport, should be very aware that there was somebody on their flight who had the coronavirus,” Hazzard told reporters in Sydney.
“If they do have any of the symptoms … you should get along to your doctor.
“If you have any doubts, any thoughts that it might be the coronavirus, please ring ahead.”
NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said authorities would ask people who sat a couple of rows in front of and behind the woman to self-isolate for 14 days.
“We will be reaching out as soon as we’ve got contact details,” Chant told reporters in Sydney.
NSW has so far had six confirmed cases of the virus.
The woman who arrived from Iran is currently in hospital with the virus, as is another man in his 40s who arrived in Sydney on a separate flight.
They’re both in a stable condition and haven’t needed intensive care, Chant said.
Hazzard said two of the man’s close contacts were in hospital quarantine and another six were in self-isolation.
He said more than 80 people in NSW were being tested on Monday but that was a rolling figure.
The state government on Monday also warned of a likely convergence of a COVID-19 pandemic with winter flu as they announced they would lower the age pharmacists could administer flu jabs to 10 years old.
“Last year was the longest flu season on record and in 2017 more than 650 people in NSW died from flu-related conditions, and now we have COVID-19,” Hazzard said in a statement.
“While the flu vaccine won’t combat COVID-19, it will help reduce the severity and spread of flu, which can lower a person’s immunity and make them susceptible to other illnesses.”
Chant said authorities had asked hospitals to plan for acute respiratory clinics, to provide pathways for people with respiratory illness and relieve emergency departments during very high demand.
“That’s in the knowledge that you won’t be able to discriminate between potentially patients with influenza or other respiratory viruses and COVID-19,” she said.