WA renews quarantine push after breach

·3-min read

Western Australia's government has renewed calls for the Commonwealth to build purpose-built quarantine facilities after another COVID-19 hotel breach.

Authorities on Wednesday continued to investigate how a returned traveller at the Pan Pacific Hotel had been infected by a neighbouring guest.

The two men had been staying in adjoining rooms at the hotel, which had been deemed to be "low-risk" for airborne transmission of the virus.

It comes just a month after a security guard was infected while working at the Pan Pacific and passed the virus onto two of his housemates. He is believed to have been infected through shared contact with a luggage trolley.

"It just goes to show that hotel quarantine was not built for these purposes," Premier Mark McGowan told reporters.

"A viable plan has been put forward by us for (travellers to quarantine on) Christmas Island and the Commonwealth has rejected it."

The premier said it would make sense for any purpose-built quarantine facility to be located near international-capacity airports such as in Busselton or Exmouth.

The first repatriation flight from India to arrive in WA touched down on Wednesday, carrying 134 passengers.

They have been transferred to Perth's Westin Hotel where they will spend 14 days in quarantine.

"We're obviously doing our best to make sure it's as absolutely watertight and safe as possible," Mr McGowan said.

A hard border to Victoria remains in place as the state grapples with a significant outbreak.

WA has also classified parts of NSW as exposure sites after it emerged a person from Melbourne visited the South Coast while infectious.

Anyone who travels to WA after having visited those sites must quarantine and get tested.

Twelve guests staying on the same floor as the latest WA cases have left quarantine but will be re-tested. Authorities say they are unlikely to have themselves been infected.

All security guards who worked on the floor have also tested negative.

One of the infected men arrived at the hotel on May 21 from Colombia via the United States. He tested positive two days later.

The other man had been in the hotel since May 16 and returned two negative tests before testing positive on day 13.

Mr McGowan said it was preferred not to move guests located next to confirmed cases because doing so carried a number of risks.

Australian Medical Association WA president Andrew Miller said that was "nonsense".

"We know that if they get sick with COVID, they're going to have to be moved to hospital anyway," he said.

"They just need to take the responsibility to improve the quarantine situation."

A family of three staying opposite one of the men remain in quarantine and have been moved to a room further away.

All have tested negative.

Opposition Leader Mia Davies said the breach showed the McGowan government had failed to provide proper safeguards for hotel quarantine.

The Allegra bulk vessel has meanwhile departed Kwinana Port for Singapore after a crew member who tested positive was deemed to be a historical case.

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