Scott Morrison – MPs on board Perth to Canberra flight directed straight into quarantine
Federal MPs and senators arriving in Canberra for the first sitting week of the year are being directed straight into quarantine amid fears of a COVID-19 outbreak in Perth.
A number of MPs were in the air flying from Perth to Sydney as the WA premier announced the shock news that a COVID-19 infected hotel security guard has been roaming Perth triggering a 5-day lockdown.
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds, Assistant Defence Minster Andrew Hastie, Assistant Minister to PM Ben Morton and Labor MPs including Matt Keogh were on board the Perth flights landing in Canberra on Sunday night and were directed straight to quarantine.
In a move that could throw Parliament into chaos, they have all been banned from attending Parliament until ACT health decides on next steps and will be tested for COVID-19.
There were also concerns last night that at least one person on the flight had visited exposure sites listed by the WA government as attended by the COVID-19 infected security guard.
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Earlier, Speaker of the House Tony Smith had directed all WA MPs not to leave the airport but report immediately to officials and prepare to enter quarantine.
“As directed by the Speaker, all WA Members and staff must report to the SAA and Whips staff on arrival at the gate at Canberra airport,’’ the advice states.
“You will be directed to quarantine until further advised by the whip’s office.”
The WA contingent also includes the Attorney-General and Manager of Government business Christian Porter.
ACT Health is requesting that passengers arriving on flights from Western Australia go directly to their accommodation and to minimise their interactions with other people.
“ACT Health advises that all passengers should wear a mask and go directly to their accommodation,” ACT’s Deputy chief health officer, Dr Vanessa Johnston said.
“ACT Health is monitoring the situation in Western Australia and will be making further decisions as additional information is received from WA authorities. We will be in contact with passengers tomorrow.
“Of course, any person who starts to experience symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested immediately.”
The Australian Health Principal Protection Committee (AHPCC) was expected to convene an emergency meeting on Sunday night to discuss the Perth cases.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said both the PM and his office had been briefed on the situation in WA by the acting chief medical officer.
“At this stage one case has been confirmed with widespread testing and contact tracing underway,’’ he said.
“Four states have recently been tested by outbreaks, South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
“All have taken appropriate action to effectively manage these outbreaks. We are confident that Western Australia will also be able to manage the current outbreak.”
The Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was also confident the WA Government could get the outbreak under control.
“The coming days will be difficult for many Western Australians but we’re confident WA will be able to get on top of the current outbreak,” he said.
“A big thank you to everyone in WA for your patience and cooperation as we all work to fight this terrible virus.”