Airport health screens 'not good enough': Lismore MP

UPDATE, 2pm: LISMORE MP Janelle Saffin has slammed the current checks NSW Health put in place at Ballina Airport for flights coming from Melbourne, saying they are insufficient to make the Northern Rivers community feel safe.

Ms Saffin said she spoke yesterday with NSW Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, about the new Public Health Order, for which NSW Health staff has been placed at airports across the state, including Ballina, to screen passengers.

COVID_19 check at airport: Temperature testing of passengers from flights coming from Melbourne and Canberra into Ballina Byron Gateway Airport.
COVID_19 check at airport: Temperature testing of passengers from flights coming from Melbourne and Canberra into Ballina Byron Gateway Airport.

"It's not enough to make residents feel safe," she said.

"Rather people didn't come at all from Melbourne or Victoria at the moment, and particularly with school holidays in Victoria and about to start here, that's what people are saying to me they would prefer.

"Some people say (those arriving via the airport) should be tested for COVID, but that would mean they would have to go into quarantine."

Ms Saffin said she received a 'deluge' of calls from Lismore residents worried about the situation.

"People often talk about looking after the economy, but the key issue here is that public safety means all possible safety measures have been taken, so public confidence grow and that extends to the economy. It's not a case of either or," she said.

Earlier today at the Ballina airport, four people from Health NSW were at the arrival of the Jetstar flight from Melbourne, offering health information and checking temperatures on arrival.

Three officers from NSW Police were at the airport checking on addresses of those coming in the Jetstar flight.

Some people arriving at Ballina mentioned their temperatures had already been tested prior to departure in Melbourne.

 

Original story: PASSENGERS arriving at the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport from Melbourne are being screened for coronavirus, the health district has confirmed.

Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive, Wayne Jones, said there had been no new cases of COVID-19 in our region in the last 66 days, and screening plane passengers would help maintain local safety.

>>> Ballina mayor defends Jetstar flights

"NSW Health staff will be placed at airports across the state, including at Ballina Airport in Northern NSW, to screen passengers arriving on flights from Melbourne," he said.

"With school holidays coming in NSW and already underway for QLD and Victoria, this is one of the busiest times of the year in the Northern Rivers.

"We will continue to keep the public updated on any changes to health advice as the pandemic evolves.

Jetstar flight to Melbourne: Ballina Mayor David Wright has defended direct flights from Melbourne to Ballina.
Jetstar flight to Melbourne: Ballina Mayor David Wright has defended direct flights from Melbourne to Ballina.

"We urge individuals to maintain physical distancing, wash hands regularly, and cover coughs and sneezes to minimise any risk of COVID-19 transmission.

"If you have any symptoms at all, even a mild sore throat or runny nose, don't delay in getting tested at your local hospital, GP or pop up testing clinic."

Ballina Byron Gateway Airport general manager, Julie Stewart, welcomed the measure.

"We are happy to work with local authorities to put in place this NSW health order," she said.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard announced strict new measures for anyone travelling from 'hot spots' in Victoria to NSW.

These include penalties of up to $11,000 or six-month imprisonment for those found guilty of breaching these public health orders.