UPDATE: NSW Health has issued an official statement on the incident, asserting “Airline staff, contrary to agreed protocols, allowed passengers to leave the gate area
before the health staff had concluded screening a prior flight. As a result of this breach, flights will now not be allowed to land in NSW until NSW Health teams are in place to screen them.”

NSW Health also confirmed that 45 of the passengers have been contacted for screening. The remaining three, including one who refused to be screened, have been referred to NSW Police.

Passengers on board a Jetstar plane that flew from Melbourne to Sydney last night were reportedly allowed to disembark at Sydney Airport without undergoing coronavirus screening by NSW Health officials, in what stands as an enormous breach of the state’s strict COVID-19 protocols.

According to a report published by the ABC this afternoon, a leaked email claims Jetstar flight JQ520 landed in Sydney at 6:53pm last night carrying 48 passengers. NSW Health officials were screening passengers on another flight at the time. As a result, passengers from JQ520 were disembarked from their flight without undergoing COVID-19 screening. That is currently against NSW Health protocols, which demand all arriving passengers from Victoria undergo screening, which includes temperature tests and identification checks.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant later confirmed to The Australian that “The airport has now put in protocols to ensure the health team is there and able to do the screening and no-one’s allowed to disembark before that happens.”

Chant also stated that all 48 passengers from the flight “are known,” and that NSW Health is “in the process of chasing them up.”

“If anyone’s travelled in breach of any orders we will refer them to police and take the appropriate action if anyone is symptomatic,” Dr Chant stated.

Those passengers on board the flight are still required to self-isolate for 14 days before they can freely move about the community, however allowing passengers to leave the plane – and, in some cases, the airport – is a massive breach of the recently-announced NSW protocols with regards to people travelling from Victoria, which go hand-in-hand with the state’s hard border closure.

Three flights landed in close succession at Sydney Airport last night, which is understood to have contributed to the oversight.

Image: Getty Images / James D. Morgan