A third Australian Open charter plane has arrived in Melbourne with a coronavirus-infected passenger on board – sending even more tennis players into quarantine.
All passengers on board Qatar Airways flight QR7485 which landed in Doha from Melbourne on Saturday morning have been told to quarantine for 14 days.
French player Alexandre Müller shared the email from Tennis Australia officials on Sunday night which revealed someone on-board the flight had returned a positive COVID-19 test result.
The exposure means potentially dozens of players will join the 47 Australian Open hopefuls already in hotel quarantine after positive cases were found on two other charter flights from Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi.
‘Unfortunately we have some bad news for you,’ the alert Müller shared on Twitter said.
A flight attendant and a tennis coach who were on the same flight are also infected with the virus, as well as a second coach who entered Australia from Abu Dhabi
A flight attendant and a tennis coach who were on the same flight are also infected with the virus, as well as Sylvain Bruneau, the coach of Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu, who entered Australia from Abu Dhabi.
All four people tested negative when they left the US.
There are 62 close contacts on the LA to Melbourne flight and 63 from the Abu Dhabi flight who will spend 14 days in hotel quarantine.
Former world number one and three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber is currently undergoing hard lockdown
‘We have delayed training (on Sunday) because a number of test results are not in yet. I can confirm that all player and training partner test results are in, but now we are waiting on the rest of the cohorts,’ Dr Cassar said on Sunday.
‘We’re working with Tennis Australia to make sure we can get back on track tomorrow.’
In another blow for the tournament’s hotel quarantine program, the Department of Justice and Community Safety Victoria issued a warning to Tennis Australia about players trying to leave their room.
TA boss Craig Tiley said players will be fined and placed in hard quarantine if they continue.
Ms Cassar said there was ‘zero tolerance’ and Victoria Police have been contacted about the breaches.
‘When people come out of their rooms it is not just about, or that they’re wrong, it is placing them and our staff and the community at risk,’ she told the ABC.
‘I can give you two examples, a player who opened his door to try and have a conversation with his training mate down the hallway. Again, he’s got a phone, you can pick up the phone and use the telephone as opposed to putting you and others at risk.
‘The other was another gentleman who shouted some Uber Easts to some other people on the floor and was praising his great efforts and opened his door to do so.
Dr Cassar said despite the incidents being ‘low-level,’ the players’ behaviour is ‘dangerous’ and won’t be tolerated.
This week flights ferrying players, including defending champion Novak Djokovic, have arrived
Spanish star Rafael Nadal (pictured centre) has also touched down in Australia
Serena Williams with her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. arrives at Adelaide Airport on January 14
Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, three-time grand slam winner Angelique Kerber and 2019 US Open title holder Bianca Andreescu are among the players already in hotel quarantine.
An aircrew member and a non-playing participant tested positive following their arrival on the flight from Los Angeles Friday morning, initially leaving Azarenka among 24 players having to quarantine.
But the situation quickly escalated, with Tennis Australia on Saturday evening confirming another positive COVID test returned from a passenger on a charter flight into Melbourne from Abu Dhabi.
Tennis Australia said no players and support people will be able to leave quarantine to attend training.
‘Players are being supported to access equipment for their hotel rooms to help them maintain their fitness during this time,’ it said.
Players were originally given an exemption to leave their quarantine hotel to train for up to five hours a day, however an email from TA confirmed all who were aboard the flights would now be in hard lockdown.
Japanese star Kei Nishikori is currently undergoing hard lockdown in Melbourne
Meanwhile, tennis stars and support staff currently quarantining in Adelaide will be subject to South Australia’s strict coronavirus measures should any test positive ahead of an event later this month, Premier Steven Marshall says.
A host of the world’s leading players, including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams, flew into Adelaide last week ahead of a one-day exhibition tournament at Memorial Drive on January 29.
They are all in hotel quarantine and have special arrangements in place to allow them to train over the next two weeks.
Premier Steven Marshall says there’s no suggestion any of the players or their support crews have tested positive at this stage.
But he says if they do, they will be moved to Adelaide’s dedicated COVID-19 facility along with other active infections.
‘There is very tight scrutiny around the people who have come into South Australia,’ Mr Marshall said on Sunday.