Police chief defends SA quarantine staff

Tim Dornin
·2-min read

South Australia's police commissioner has come to the defence of people working in coronavirus quarantine hotels, urging critics to "give these people a break".

A cleaner at a medi-hotel in Adelaide has been revealed as the source of a COVID-19 cluster in Adelaide which has forced the state into a six-day hard lockdown.

She's thought to have picked up the virus from a surface and then infected members of her family.

At least 23 people have confirmed cases with another 17 suspected.

A security guard at the same hotel who tested positive for COVID-19 has prompted further concern after it was revealed he also worked at a pizza bar, potentially infecting other staff and customers.

SA has now moved to weekly testing for all hotel workers but the outbreak has raised questions over whether tighter restrictions should be placed on staff in quarantine facilities.

However, Commissioner Grant Stevens said there seemed to be an expectation that people working in quarantine hotels would be isolated "in a complete bubble".

"Your expectation is unreasonable," he told reporters on Thursday.

"People have an entitlement to get on with their life when they're not at work.

"Give these people a break."

Mr Stevens called on the community to be "grateful for the fact that they're stepping up to do this job".

"These people have lives. If we ask these people, including police and nurses, to go into quarantine when they're not at work, we will not have people doing this job," he said.

Premier Steven Marshall said SA's hotel quarantine system has recently passed a national audit with flying colours.

But he said health officials were continually reviewing the arrangements to find ways to make further improvements.

"We've got to be nimble, we've got to respond, we've got to take corrective action as soon as we've been presented with new circumstances.

"We will do absolutely everything possible to make sure that we are constantly operating our medi-hotels at the highest possible level," Mr Marshall said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also defended the hotel quarantine system, the PM believing no such arrangements could be made 100 per cent failsafe.

Mr Morrison said Australia had welcomed more than 400,000 returned citizens and permanent residents during the pandemic.

"We've had a lot of people coming through and we've had outbreaks in cases that have emerged from quarantine in many states during that time," he told Seven's Sunrise program.

"You can't have a failsafe 100 per cent system in every case."