Security 'issue' sparks new concerns over hotel cluster

Tom Flanagan
·News Reporter
·3-min read

How a coronavirus cluster occurred on a floor of a Brisbane hotel quarantine facility may remain a mystery after it was revealed there was no CCTV in operation on that level.

Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll told reporters on Friday that while the Grand Chancellor had CCTV operating in “many aspects of the hotel”, there was no cameras on floor seven where the outbreak is centred.

She said despite regular patrols of hotels, the “issue” of no CCTV on the floor has prompted further action.

“I have asked a full audit of all hotel quarantine hotels, in terms of their CCTV footage. What we will do is, if we find that there is any gap in that whole process, that we ourselves make sure that we put CCTV footage into those hotels.”

Queensland has shut Hotel Grand Chancellor after a surge in cases linked to the UK strain. Source: AAP
Queensland has shut Hotel Grand Chancellor after a surge in cases linked to the UK strain. Source: AAP

There are six people, who all have the highly-infectious UK strain of the virus, linked to the outbreak with health authorities clueless as to how the virus spread.

Their infections prompted health authorities to shut the hotel down, moving guests into another facility.

Among the six is a hotel cleaner whose positive diagnosis prompted a strict three-day lockdown in Greater Brisbane. Her husband has since tested positive.

The virus is understood to have been brought into the hotel by a UK couple who arrived on December 30.

A father and daughter who arrived from Lebanon on January 1 have both contracted the UK strain, genomic testing confirms.

Commissioner Carroll said police would “interrogate every aspect” to determine how the cluster occurred.

So far three of the six have been interviewed by police.

Father and daughter leaving hotel ‘not an issue’

On Friday, Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young refuted any suggestion there had been a quarantine breach after the father was accompanied by his daughter after needing hospital treatment.

She said anybody who leaves the hotel is treated as if they have the virus.

The man’s daughter accompanied him due to his poor English proficiency.

“It is not an issue, from my point of view,” Dr Young said.

Dr Jeannette Young dismissed there had been a breach at the facility from staff. Source: Getty
Dr Jeannette Young dismissed the suggestion there had been a breach at the facility from staff. Source: Getty

“We have been getting more and more positives in hotel quarantine, all of those get moved immediately to hospital as has occurred with our two new cases in hotel quarantine today in Brisbane.”

Police’s investigations will include taking swabs from surfaces in the staff service area, the hotel rooms, walls and other materials inside the hotel.

Amid growing speculation the hotel’s air conditioning system could have spread the virus, Dr Young said that would be part of investigations.

“I have suggested that perhaps maybe air conditioning might be an issue. I don't know that it is... it is something to look at and police have included that in their process to look at.”

When pressed on the theory, NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said while she did not want to speculate on the hotel cluster, it was “a theoretical possibility”.

On Thursday, Ms Palaszczuk put forward a radical plan to move hotel quarantine out of Brisbane and into regional Queensland at mining camps.

There were zero locally acquired cases announced in Queensland on Friday, however one case believed to be an old infection is being investigated.

There were two cases identified in hotel quarantine in the previous 24 hours.

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