Quarantine hotels 'inadequate': Vic AMA

·2-min read

The Victorian head of Australia's peak doctors' body has branded many city hotels "woefully inadequate" to quarantine returned travellers.

There have been seven cases of COVID-19 transmission detected across three Victorian quarantine hotels within a week, including five at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport.

In response, the state government has initiated a review of ventilation systems at every hotel in the system despite carrying out airflow checks before the program restarted in December.

Julian Rait, the Australian Medical Association's Victorian president, has called for the release of the Holiday Inn's original ventilation audit and suggested many city hotels are "woefully inadequate for quarantine purposes".

"AMA Victoria would like to see the original ventilation audit to demonstrate that the Holiday Inn was safe to use in the first place," he tweeted.

"There have been three cases on one floor. One case is unfortunate, but two or three cases is careless."

The outbreak has since swollen to eight cases, with another worker and former resident returning positive test results.

Authorities suspect the virus may have spread through the air after a COVID-infected guest used a nebuliser which vaporises medications or liquids into a fine mist.

AMA national president Omar Khorshid said the UK strain had "blown open cracks" in hotel quarantine infection controls, exposing the need for urgent changes.

"There have been too many hotel quarantine breaches, and lives are being put at risk," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We need action now."

With coronavirus having escaped hotel quarantine in most states, Dr Khorshid said Australia had been "incredibly lucky" to avoid a mass outbreak of the more transmissible strains.

He recommends "smart changes" to airflow within quarantine hotels and better personal protective equipment including N95 masks and eye protection for workers, a move Victoria adopted last week.

"If hotels cannot be made safe through PPE and other controls, alternatives must be found now that will allow some travel in and out of Australia whilst protecting all Australians from this virus, including the new strains," he said.