Five Australian Defence Force personnel who recently served in the Middle East have contracted coronavirus.
- Four of the five ADF members were taken to Royal Darwin Hospital
- Defence said they were asymptomatic
- The fifth tested positive while in mandatory quarantine in Brisbane
In a statement released this morning, Defence said it “proactively tested” members for COVID-19 in the Middle East after it was notified a number of locally engaged contractors had tested positive to the virus.
A Defence spokesman confirmed tests were carried out last week while the members were overseas and returned a positive result on April 29.
Four of the five tested positive overseas before being flown home.
They returned to Australia on a routine Defence flight and were taken to Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH) for assessment.
They are still receiving treatment at the hospital.
The fifth, who recently completed their deployment, was already in Australia in mandatory quarantine in Brisbane when they tested positive.
Four RDH patients doing ‘very well’
A Defence spokesman said the returned personnel were deployed to Operation ACCORDION and were from a range of units around Australia.
He said they disembarked in Darwin today as the first point of entry in Australia at about 6:00am Darwin time.
NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles said the four members were taken straight to the hospital.
“These are Aussies returning home after doing their duties overseas.”
Ms Fyles said all four patients were “doing very well” and there was no risk to the community.
Ms Fyles did not know if the four patients at RDH would stay in the NT for the duration of their treatment or be transferred to their home states.
It’s been more than three weeks since the NT recorded its last confirmed case of COVID-19, but these four new cases may not be recorded in the NT’s coronavirus tally.
The NT previously housed Australian evacuees from Wuhan and the Diamond Princess, and positive COVID-19 cases in each instance were counted against the patient’s home state.
Defence said it worked closely with the Northern Territory Government to implement appropriate transport and quarantine arrangements, including medical examination and care.