WA health minister orders charter flight to bring nurses home from Victoria

WA health minister orders charter flight to bring nurses home from Victoria

A special flight will be chartered by the state government to bring home a group of WA nurses after one of them contracted coronavirus while helping with Victoria's COVID-19 outbreak.

Health Minister Roger Cook said on Wednesday afternoon the seven nurses would not need to quarantine for a further two weeks on arrival back in WA, and would be brought over on the clean charter flight which would fly to Victoria, collect them, and return immediately back to Perth.

He said the nurses and one support worker, who volunteered to fly east and help the Victorian health system cope with its latest coronavirus outbreak, had been in hotel quarantine since one of the nurses tested positive to COVID-19.

WA Deputy Chief Health Officer Robyn Lawrence said their quarantine period was due to come to an end on September 20, and the nurse who had contracted COVID-19 should also be able to return on that date.

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The nurse had been working in an aged care home in Melbourne as part of a WA volunteer team including five other nurses and a support worker.

They face the prospect of being forced to quarantine for two weeks in Melbourne then a further two weeks upon returning to WA, despite the nurses' union claiming they were promised they would be airlifted home if one of them fell sick.

Premier Mark McGowan on Wednesday declined to say what will happen to the health workers, adding that Health Minister Roger Cook would later address the issue.

"Obviously it's very traumatic and concerning for the families and the individuals involved," he told reporters.

"They have been heroic in what they've done, going over to serve their fellow citizens in a difficult environment and they deserve all of our thanks.

"We are currently working through with the nurses and their families exactly what can be done and what should be done and what is in their interests."

The nurse is isolating in a "Hotel for Heroes" emergency accommodation facility.

Mr Cook on Tuesday said the other team members, who returned negative tests, were isolating in a separate Melbourne hotel and had not shown any symptoms.

He said the nurse had mild symptoms including a dry cough but was otherwise "relatively comfortable".

Australian Nurses Federation state secretary Mark Olsen said he was disappointed by the handling of the incident and wanted the nurses brought home.

"They were told - nothing in writing, of course - that the health department had a contract with RFDS to fly them out of Melbourne," he told Perth radio 6PR.

Mr Cook has said he was not aware of any promises about airlifting the health workers home.

He said WA had sent a total of 19 nurses and three support staff to work across three Melbourne aged care homes.

All three teams were nearing the end of their stints and he did not expect WA to send more volunteers given the situation in Victoria had improved.

WA recorded no new cases on Wednesday. Three cases remain active.

They face the prospect of being forced to quarantine for two weeks in Melbourne then a further two weeks upon returning to WA, despite the nurses' union claiming they were promised they would be airlifted home if one of them fell sick.

Premier Mark McGowan on Wednesday declined to say what will happen to the health workers, adding that Health Minister Roger Cook would later address the issue.

"Obviously it's very traumatic and concerning for the families and the individuals involved," he told reporters.

"They have been heroic in what they've done, going over to serve their fellow citizens in a difficult environment and they deserve all of our thanks.

"We are currently working through with the nurses and their families exactly what can be done and what should be done and what is in their interests."

The nurse is isolating in a "Hotel for Heroes" emergency accommodation facility.

Mr Cook on Tuesday said the other team members, who returned negative tests, were isolating in a separate Melbourne hotel and had not shown any symptoms.

He said the nurse had mild symptoms including a dry cough but was otherwise "relatively comfortable".

Australian Nurses Federation state secretary Mark Olsen said he was disappointed by the handling of the incident and wanted the nurses brought home.

"They were told - nothing in writing, of course - that the health department had a contract with RFDS to fly them out of Melbourne," he told Perth radio 6PR.

Mr Cook has said he was not aware of any promises about airlifting the health workers home.

He said WA had sent a total of 19 nurses and three support staff to work across three Melbourne aged care homes.

All three teams were nearing the end of their stints and he did not expect WA to send more volunteers given the situation in Victoria had improved.

WA recorded no new cases on Wednesday. Three cases remain active.

Australian Associated Press

This story WA health minister orders charter flight to bring nurses home from Victoria first appeared on Mandurah Mail.