Advice from Dr Kerry Chant, Chief Health Officer NSW Ministry of Health

2 December 2020

Download as PDF: Letter from the Chief Health Officer 

In advance of your arrival to Australia, I write to advise you of the measures New South Wales is taking to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. I appreciate your careful consideration of this advice to help keep everyone safe.

Please note that the self-isolation and testing information in this letter relates to those individuals who are self-isolating in New South Wales. If you are self-isolating in another Australian jurisdiction, including the Australian Capital Territory, please ensure that you are aware of the relevant testing and self-isolation advice for that State or Territory.

Holders of diplomatic (subclass 995) visas and their dependents arriving in NSW should:

  • self-isolate at their home or suitable accommodation for 14 days after arrival in NSW,
  • get tested for COVID-19 upon arrival at Sydney Airport (known as a day O test), and again on day 12 following arrival, before completing their self-isolation period (please see details below), and
  • get tested immediately if any symptoms of COVID-19 develop, however mild.

Before arriving in NSW

Before travelling to Australia, please arrange suitable accommodation in which you and the members of your travel group can self-isolate for 14 days following arrival. You should plan to self-isolate at your home if possible and should only leave the premises in the event of an emergency. If you cannot self-isolate at home, please self-isolate at your Sydney consulate if suitable, or perform quarantine at a NSW government-designated hotel.

If you plan to self-isolate in another type of accommodation (such as a hotel or serviced apartment), please contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Protocol Branch on to discuss these arrangements. The Department of Foreign Affairs will discuss your plans with the local public health authorities.

Your self-isolation accommodation should:

  • allow you and all the dependents in your travel group to remain separated from all others, including any staff or family who did not travel with you
  • not require you to pass through common areas, or share communal facilities (such as a bathroom or kitchen) with anyone other than the people you are self-isolating with, and
  • be self-contained.

You and all the people in your travel group should remain completely separated from others for the whole of your self-isolation period.

Please make plans in advance so that you will not need to leave your accommodation to obtain food or other supplies. If you are arranging for food or other items to be delivered, they should be brought directly to, and left at, the front door of your accommodation to avoid any contact with others.

Should any member of your travel group be identified to have a COVID-19 infection, special cleaning arrangements may be required for your accommodation once your self-isolation period is complete.

Your local Public Health Unit can provide advice should this situation arise.

Arrival in NSW and COVID-19 testing arrangements

On arrival at Sydney Airport, all members of your travel group will be asked to fill out a health declaration form asking about any recent symptoms or close contact with people with COVID-19. If you or any member of your travel group have any symptoms of COVID-19, health screening staff will discuss options for you and your travel group to safely access healthcare (including receiving care at NSW Health's Special Health Accommodation).

You will also be offered a COVID-19 swab on arrival (day 0), which can be performed at the airport by a healthcare worker employed by NSW Health. You and all members of your travel group should also have another COVID-19 test on day 12 after arrival, even if you do not have any symptoms. This allows officials to confirm that no-one in your travel group has developed COVID-19 during your self-isolation period.

The day 12 COVID-19 tests are strongly recommended and can be arranged through a private pathology provider or a COVI D-19 testing clinic. A negative COVID-19 test on day 12 is needed for you and all members of your travel group to leave self-isolation safely. If your whole travel group does not perform a COVID-19 test on day 12 after arrival, then your whole travel group should complete 24 days of self-isolation.

If any member of your travel group develops any symptoms of COVI D-19 during your self­isolation period, you should arrange COVID-19 testing for the symptomatic person immediately, or you can seek assistance from your local public health unit to access rapid testing. Information on COVID-19 testing clinics and COVID-19 symptoms can be found at the following webpage:­of-covid-19.

You should arrange to travel to a COVI D-19 testing clinic in a private car, not a taxi. If you need to see a doctor, you should call ahead and make sure they are aware that you are self­isolating. You should travel to an urgent medical appointment in a private car, not a taxi.

Testing for COVID-19 is free at public clinics. You can get tested as many times as needed.

If you become severely unwell or experience a medical emergency while in self­isolation, you should phone 000 for an ambulance. You should tell the ambulance staff that you are in in self-isolation for COVID-19 due to your recent arrival from overseas.

Meeting and greeting ceremonies

I understand that diplomatic officials may have arrangements in place to be greeted at the airport. At this time it is important that only staff essential to transferring you to your place of self-isolation greet you at the airport, and every member of your groups and any staff that meet your travel group should wear masks and maintain 1.5m physical distance.

Travel to your self-isolation accommodation

You should travel directly from the airport to your self-isolation accommodation by private car.

Please take the following precautions when travelling to your self-isolation accommodation:

  • no more than two passengers in any one car (if you are being driven by someone you are not self-isolating with);
  • passengers should sit in the back seat and wear face masks (except for very young children);
  • passengers should wash their hands before and after travel, and have alcohol-based hand sanitiser available during the trip;
  • passengers should handle their own belongings and luggage;
  • the driver should also wear a face mask;
  • the car's vents should be opened to bring in fresh air from outside, and the windows lowered to promote air flow. Avoid using the car's recirculated air conditioning option during passenger transport; and
  • the car's interior and touch points such as door handles should be cleaned thoroughly after transporting passengers.

Guidance for quarantine

Further information about the self-isolation period is detailed in advice for travellers.

Please review this guidance carefully and communicate this information with members of your travel group and staff so that they fully understand it.

NSW Health staff regularly contact people in home isolation to check on their safety and wellbeing. These staff will provide advice on how to arrange testing if you or any member of your travel group develops any symptoms of COVID-19, as well as testing on day 12 after arrival for everyone in your travel group. They will also contact you regularly during your period of isolation to check on your health and welfare.

More information

NSW Public Health Units: 1300 066 055

Information on COVID-19 in NSW can be found at:

Thank you for your cooperation in helping to protect the NSW community from COVID-19.

Current as at: Friday 8 January 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW