The extreme measures taken to tackle hotel quarantine's ‘changing enemy’

Tom Flanagan
·News Reporter
·2-min read

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has revealed the extreme measures being taken to ensure the state's hotel quarantine program can contain a highly infectious Covid strain.

After a further two cases emerged from one of Melbourne’s quarantine hotels, Mr Andrews on Wednesday warned the state was facing a “wicked and changing enemy” as the mutant UK strain continues to plague the program.

The premier confirmed the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport was now shut down for a “terminal clean”, and detailed some of the extreme measures being taken to help prevent the spread of the virus in quarantine facilities.

Daniel Andrews addressed the media on Wednesday morning. Source: ABC
Daniel Andrews addressed the media on Wednesday morning. Source: ABC

“We need to redouble our efforts to do more and to respond to that unique challenge, a challenge that is very different than what it was a month ago, let alone what it was three or six months ago,” he told reporters.

“We are ripping up carpet for heaven's sake and replacing it with vinyl.”

Forty-eight guests of the hotel considered primary close contacts will be transferred to the Pullman Melbourne to quarantine for an "extended number of days".

Moving guests were pictured wearing plastic gowns as they were escorted from the hotel.

Anyone who spent 15 minutes or more at the hotel between January 27 and February 9, including staff and residents, are considered primary close contacts and will need to quarantine.

One guest being moved on Wednesday. Source: AAP
One guest being moved on Wednesday. Source: AAP

Theory over how virus spread in Holiday Inn

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton warned Victorians to “expect more cases” as he revealed the Department of Health’s theory as to how the virus had spread inside the Holiday Inn.

Professor Sutton said the three cases were likely linked to a floor with known COVID-positive guests.

He said authorities believe the cases are linked to an exposure event that involved a medical device called a nebuliser which vaporises medication into a fine mist and was used by an infected returned traveller.

"We think the exposures are to that event, this nebuliser whereby the method of a virus was carried out into the corridor and exposed the authorised officer, the food and beverage service worker and also the other resident,” Prof Sutton said.

"That makes sense in terms of the geography and it makes sense in terms of the exposure time.”

The two latest cases confirmed on Tuesday are a returned traveller, who tested positive after finishing her 14 days in quarantine, and a food and beverage worker.

About 135 staff at the hotel were stood down on Tuesday night and were told to get tested and then isolate at home for 14 days, bringing the total number of staff isolating to 220.

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