Their ordeal is almost over; 360 Australians will be repatriated in Canberra before Christmas, and the first 150 passengers return this week on a government-facilitated flight from Singapore on Thursday 26 November.
However, two weeks of hotel quarantine await them before they can be reunited with loved ones they have not seen for months.
As soon as they disembark, ACT Health officials will screen the arrivals for COVID-19 and other health risks. ACT Policing and Australian Defence Force personnel will also be on hand to ensure all goes smoothly.
The passengers will then be quarantined in hotels for a fortnight, and tested again on day 10 to 12 of their confinement.
ACT Policing COVID-19 Taskforce’s Detective Superintendent Matthew Heather said Canberra had a strong record of compliance for hotel and home quarantine.
“The priority over the next few weeks will be the safety of Canberra’s residents, and the care of Australians returning home via Canberra,” Detective Superintendent Heather said.
Although Victoria’s second wave of coronavirus has been blamed on failures in hotel quarantine, authorities reassured the public that there was little risk.
“The ACT and Commonwealth governments have worked collaboratively to put in place processes and arrangements for the safe quarantine of international arrivals to the ACT,” an ACT Health spokesperson said.
“Following the National Review into Hotel Quarantine and learning from other state and territories, ACT Health has put in place further measures to protect the ACT community.”
These measures include ongoing surveillance of symptoms, while hotel staff and government employees in contact with returned travellers will be regularly tested for COVID-19.
The ACT Health wellbeing team – including social workers and psychologists – will support those in quarantine.
As at Tuesday 24 November, there was only one active COVID-19 case in the ACT, and no new cases had been recorded.
ACT Policing has conducted 949 COVID-19 quarantine checks in the past week, bringing the total number to more than 19,200 during Canberra’s COVID-19 response, a spokesperson said.
As of Monday, the Singaporean Ministry of Health confirmed that there were no new cases of locally transmitted COVID-19 infection in the island city-state. Five people had entered the country with the virus; they were isolated upon arrival.
The ACT Government has a dedicated COVID-19 website for all information about the health and economic response to the pandemic in the ACT. For further information, visit www.covid19.act.gov.au.
The ACT Government also has a helpline to assist Canberrans through the challenges of COVID-19. The COVID-19 Helpline is 6207 7244, available between 8am and 8pm daily.
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