A second person who was on a chartered flight that landed in Cairns on Sunday has tested positive to COVID-19.

The Gulfstream aircraft was carrying 16 people, who had come from Johannesburg in South Africa via Kuala Lumpur.

One person tested positive to the virus soon after arriving and has now been joined by the second case in hospital in Brisbane.

The rest of the passengers remain in hotel quarantine in Cairns.


Australian Border Force has told Tropic Now they are Fly-in Fly-out (FIFO) mine workers and all of them are Australian residents.

“This is an example of state-run quarantine doing what it is supposed to do – identifying and stopping Covid from getting into the community, while allowing Australians to return home,” a spokesman said.

However it seems the flight took at least some by surprise.

Dr Don Mackie, the Executive Director of Medical Services at Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, said authorities in Cairns had not been aware it was landing.

"(That flight) was perhaps unexpected here and that comes back to the Federal Government in terms of organisation and administration around that,” he said.


Member for Barron River, Craig Crawford, said he was also unclear about how the situation unfolded.

“I understand those inquiries will be happening,” he said.

“Obviously the Federal Government controls the international borders, what planes come into this country from outside so that will be a matter for them and I’m sure the Chief Health Officer will be very interested in the response.”

Tropic Now has sought comment from Queensland Health and was told to direct its inquiries to the Federal Government.

A follow-up email has not been addressed.

The Federal Government has rejected any suggestion that the flight hadn’t been given approval to land, or that it hadn't notified Queensland Health.

Meantime, tests on around 300 people deemed close contacts of a Mareeba woman who tested positive to COVID-19 have come back negative.

"I'm really pleased that we seem to have got on top of that so far,” Dr Mackie said.

"I'm crossing my fingers.

"The individuals are having further testing today, but certainly the 14 days is the absolute clear time."


Main points

  • A second person who landed in Cairns on a charter flight from Africa has tested positive to COVID-19
  • All passengers were isolating in hotel quarantine
  • There have been no further positive cases among 300 close contacts of a Mareeba woman who has the virus
We normally have tight control around incoming flights and we'd like to understand what's coming and when so that we can manage
CHHHS Executive Director of Medical Services