SINGAPORE: Two Singapore Airlines passengers who tested positive for the Omicron COVID-19 variant in Sydney had travelled from South Africa and transited at Changi Airport before heading on to Australia, said authorities.
The New South Wales health ministry said the two individuals arrived in Sydney on flight SQ211 on Nov 28.
Both travellers were fully vaccinated and have since been placed in isolation.
Singapore authorities said the two passengers left Johannesburg, South Africa on a Singapore Airlines flight on Nov 27 and arrived at Changi Airport the same day for their transit flight.
They remained in the transit area until their departure the next day, said the authorities, with Changi Airport's website showing that SQ211 departed Singapore at 10.30am on Nov 28 and landed in Sydney at 9.20pm the same day.
Singapore had previously announced tighter restrictions for passengers with recent travel history to seven African countries.
Those measures took effect at 11.59pm on Nov 27, with all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with travel history within the last 14 days to Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe not allowed to enter or transit in Singapore.
Here's what we know so far:
INFECTED PASSENGERS TRANSITED IN SINGAPORE
The two individuals left Johannesburg, South Africa on Nov 27 via SQ481 and arrived at Changi Airport on the same day for their transit flight, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Monday.
The travellers' pre-departure tests in South Africa on Nov 26 were negative for COVID-19 and most of them had remained in the transit area at Changi Airport until their departure for Sydney on Nov 28.
Speaking at a multi-ministry task force press conference on Tuesday, MOH's director of medical services Kenneth Mak said Singapore was notified of the two cases by their Australian counterparts on Monday.
"They did not leave the airport, they were only in the identified isolated transit area, which was dedicated for use of these travellers for onward travel," said Associate Professor Mak.
The two individuals had "some" contact with other travellers, some of whom have travelled on to other countries, said Assoc Prof Mak.
"(We) have informed the relevant health authorities to investigate and make sure that those travellers remain in good health," he added.
ALL SEVEN PEOPLE WHO DISEMBARKED IN SINGAPORE TESTED NEGATIVE
Seven passengers on the flight disembarked in Singapore, of whom six have been placed on a 10-day stay-home notice at a dedicated facility.
The seven passengers were tested on arrival and were negative for COVID-19, said Assoc Prof Mak, adding that they will continue to be tested on a regular basis. All seven people were also asymptomatic, said Assoc Prof Mak.
They will only be allowed to exit the stay-home notice if they test negative for COVID-19, he said.
One of the seven travellers was identified as a close contact of an infected individual on the flight, and has been quarantined, said MOH.
"(We will) continue to watch them closely to see whether they ultimately develop any features of infection, or whether or not they ultimately will test positive, he added.
CONTACT TRACING ONGOING FOR AIRPORT STAFF
Contact tracing is ongoing for airport staff who may have come into transient contact with the cases, said MOH on Monday.
NSW Health has said that everyone on the flight is considered a close contact and will need to "get tested immediately for COVID-19" and isolate for 14 days, regardless of their vaccination status.
Pilots and crew who operated the flight will self-isolate and get tested for COVID-19, an SIA spokesperson told CNA.
Watch the full news conference, including the Q&A session with journalists: