Travellers Warned To Wipe Their Bags After Coronavirus Outbreak Among Qantas Handlers
Six Qantas baggage handlers have tested positive to coronavirus, prompting concerns for their fellow workers at Adelaide Airport.
About 100 other baggage handlers are now being assessed for symptoms and a large number are expected to be forced into quarantine.
South Australia Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said the Qantas staff all worked in a relatively confined area, sparking concerns over the further spread of the virus.
She said the airline would be contacted on the deep cleaning of the area that would be required and any passengers who arrived on flights in the past few days were advised to wipe their baggage.
There were no concerns for other areas of the airport.
"This is a serious situation," Professor Spurrier said.
"We've met with Qantas and we're looking at implementing some workarounds to ensure baggage can be off-loaded."
The Transport Workers Union said they are trying to find out what protections are in place for other workers that had contact with those infected.
The union slammed the airline's preparedness to tackle the virus, claiming the way Qantas handled COVID-19 has left workers exposed to risks.
"Qantas is acting like a corporate bully, refusing to listen to its workers' concerns about safety," TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said.
"Qantas instead shut workers down when they raised their voices."
The airport issue came as 32 new cases were reported in SA on Tuesday, the first increase after three days of falling numbers.
That brought the total cases to 337, of which 104 were linked to cruise ships.
Eight people remain in intensive care with five of those listed as critical.
Prof Spurrier said the increase in cases showed that the numbers would jump around as the pandemic continued and emphasised the importance of restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the virus.
"The social distancing, the quarantining, the hygiene, all of these things need to be kept up," she said.
"We've got to keep our foot down, not on the accelerator but on the brake.
"It was wonderful to have small numbers yesterday and the day before but, obviously, this is still a big issue in our community."