MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Two coronavirus infections were reported Saturday on a flight to the Australian Open, forcing two weeks of strict hotel quarantine for all tennis players and entourage.
A positive case was noted after a charter flight from Los Angeles landed in Melbourne for the tennis grand slam.
Health officials in Victoria state, of which Melbourne is the capital, said a flight crew and non-player Australian Open participant had been transferred to a health hotel after testing positive for the new coronavirus.
“Passengers who have been designated as close contacts will not be able to access the training and will carry out a standard quarantine period of 14 days,” said a representative from the COVID-19 Victoria Quarantine.
In quarantine, players must train indoors, instead of being allowed out for five hours of practice per day, part of the conditions that allow the race to take place.
“Unfortunately we have been informed by the health authorities that two people on your flight AR7493 from LAX who arrived at 5.15am on Friday January 15th had returned positive for the PCR test for COVID-19 upon arrival in Melbourne,” said a message posted on Instagram by Mexico’s . Santiago Gonzalez who is ranked 48 in the doubles circuit.
“From having 5 hours of training in a bubble to this … (strict quarantine x 15 days). I’ll show my workout x Instagram (indoors), ”Uruguay’s world number 68 Pablo Cuevas said on Twitter.
The news was first reported by The Age newspaper.
Australia has agreed to accept about 1,200 players, officials and staff on 15 flights for a major sporting event that kicks off next month. Tennis officials were unable to immediately comment.
Other players cited by local media likely to join the flight include Tennys Sandgren, who was granted special permission to travel from Los Angeles last weekend after testing positive for the new coronavirus, which he previously owned, and world doubles 13th player Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.
Former Scottish world number one Andy Murray revealed he tested positive for COVID-19 last week but said he is in good health and still hopes to compete. American Madison Keys pulled out last week after she tested positive.
The incoming infection came as Australia recorded one locally acquired case, and as the state began relaxing travel restrictions with signs the outbreak in the northern state of Queensland had been contained.
The case, in western Sydney, is thought to be linked to a known cluster in New South Wales, the state’s most populous state, health officials said.
Australia has halved the number of returning travelers it will accept, to reduce the risk of a highly contagious strain seeping into communities, as happened at a site in Queensland two weeks ago.
Emirates Airline said Friday it would suspend flights between Dubai and Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane early next week until further notice.
Queensland has registered two weeks since its last hotel outbreak, fueling hopes its spread has been contained. As a result, the states of Victoria and South Australia will reopen their state borders on Sunday.
Australia, which recorded 20 hotel quarantine cases overnight, has become one of the most successful countries in the world in managing the spread of the coronavirus, with around 28,700 infections and 909 deaths.
Reporting by Melanie Burton and Ian Ransom; Edited by William Mallard
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