Australia Melbourne's coronavirus hotel quarantine program reopens as international flights resume

00:16  08 april  2021
00:16  08 april  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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Melbourne ' s run of coronavirus -free days may be at risk after the arrival of at least one symptomatic returned traveller arriving yesterday. Victoria's hotel quarantine program resumed as the state welcomed its first international flights in more than four months. About six or seven other passengers were taken to the Novotel South Wharf, which is dedicated to quarantine anyone who may need additional care beyond standard quarantine . The first international arrival yesterday was Sri Lankan Airlines flight UL604 from Colombo, which landed at Melbourne Airport just before 8am.

Melbourne to accept international arrivals as state government prepares six new quarantine hotels . Victorians are dreading another outbreak as the state prepares to welcome overseas arrivals again, but photos from inside the new scheme reveal just how rigorous it will be. The shutdown was prompted by a coronavirus outbreak linked to the Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport hotel , which saw the more virulent UK strain of the virus leak from the quarantine system and into the community. Since then Victoria has recorded 40 consecutive days without any new case of coronavirus .

Victoria's quarantine hotels are reopening today as the first international flights start landing in Melbourne early this morning.

The state has again overhauled its hotel quarantine system, with six hotels initially available to house returned travellers.

International flights were "paused" in mid-February after COVID-19 cases leaked out of hotel quarantine – notably from the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport.

That hotel is among six hotels, including several in the heart of Melbourne's CBD, that will accommodate returned overseas travellers.

They are:

  • Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport
  • Intercontinental
  • Novotel Ibis Melbourne Central
  • Pan Pacific (for airline crew)
  • Holiday Inn on Flinders (health hotel)
  • Element Melbourne Richmond (complex care)

Ventilation assessments and other works are underway at a further six hotels that COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria (CQV) expects will be able to house international returnees in the coming weeks.

Victoria's revived hotel program as 'safe as can be'

  Victoria's revived hotel program as 'safe as can be' Victoria's hotel quarantine program will relaunch tomorrow for the third time as government officials under mounting pressure reassure the state is "ready to go".The first international flight is due to land at Melbourne Airport at 4.30am from Colombo.

International flights to Melbourne will restart on December 7, in a move which will also ease the capacity constraints on Australians returning home from overseas. Arriving passengers will still be required to spend 14 days in quarantine , under a revamped scheme developed after the An interim report on Victoria' s failed hotel quarantine program is due to be tabled this Friday, and will include recommendations on establishing a revised quarantine program for arriving travellers. Melbourne put a stop to all inbound international passenger flights in early July, following a surge in coronavirus

Victoria's hotel quarantine system is resuming today, as the state welcomes its first international flights in more than five months. Melbourne has not accepted international flights since the end of June, when coronavirus spread from quarantine hotels to people working in them Lawyers for the inquiry have said the failure of the program was responsible for more than 760 deaths, and more than 18,000 infections . The inquiry heard in August that 90 per cent of the state's active cases at that time could be traced back to a family of four who stayed at Melbourne ' s Rydges on Swanston hotel .

CQV said international arrivals to Victoria would be capped at 800 in the first week and were expected to lift to 1,000 after more quarantine hotels were approved.

About 120 places will be reserved for Tasmanian residents returning on DFAT repatriation flights.

Victoria's devastating coronavirus second wave last year was triggered by transmission of the virus from hotel quarantine into the community through poorly trained private security guards.

A revamped hotel quarantine program resumed but international flights to Melbourne were halted again in February after a returned traveller in quarantine at the Holiday Inn at the airport used a nebuliser: a medical device that converts liquid medicine to vapour.

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The hotel quarantine program is now subject to an inquiry, which was launched by the state government and is headed by retired judge Jennifer Coate. 'Information already available to the inquiry suggests the possibility of a link between many of the cases of coronavirus identified in the Victorian community in the past few First of all to work out what went wrong and secondly to make sure nothing like this can ever happen again,' he said. Corrections Victoria now manages the hotel quarantine program . International flights have been diverted from the state until the situation is under control.

Security guards were hired to work at Melbourne ' s COVID-19 quarantine hotels through a WhatsApp message in a process so murky that one guard didn't even know who she was actually working for. 7.30 has obtained a series of WhatsApp messages which reveal how some security guards were recruited to work in these Melbourne quarantine hotels . On May 30, three days after the first hotel coronavirus outbreak at Rydges on Swanston, there was a call out for "40 guards" to do quarantine work at the hotel .

It was believed fine mist from the nebuliser as well as the change in air pressure when hotel room doors were opened and closed, led to the spread of the virus within the hotel.

Cases included hotel quarantine workers, other people on the same hotel floor and their contacts.

The outbreak led to Victoria's snap five-day "circuit-breaker" lockdown announced on February 12 to try to prevent the highly infectious UK strain of the virus involved in the Holiday Inn cluster from spreading further.

Since that lockdown, Victoria has notched up 40 days with no new locally acquired cases of the virus.

The Victorian government consistently said it would only restart the hotel quarantine program when it could guarantee it was safe.

CQV said the hotel quarantine program had been strengthened following expert reviews into ventilation.

It said almost 5,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine had been administered to frontline quarantine workers and 46 per cent had received their second doses.

First international flight arrives, Melbourne's hotel quarantine begins again

  First international flight arrives, Melbourne's hotel quarantine begins again The first international passenger flight in two months has landed in Melbourne, marking the third official recommencement of the Victorian government's hotel quarantine program.Sri Lankan Airlines flight UL604 from Colombo touched down at 4.24am, with the first group of passengers bound for two weeks of quarantine at the Intercontinental Hotel on Collins Street in the CBD.

MELBOURNE , Australia — Ring Mayar spends all day knocking on doors in the western suburbs of Melbourne , asking residents if they have a cough, a fever or chills. Even if they do not, he encourages them to get tested for the coronavirus , as the authorities race to catch up with a string of outbreaks As it has elsewhere in the world, the coronavirus found a hole in Australia’ s system: It spread in part because of the sharing of a cigarette lighter among security guards working at a hotel where returning international travelers are being quarantined . It later circulated in low-income neighborhoods in the

International arrivals will be stopped from returning home and instead forced into a two-week quarantine period in hotels . The new laws begin at 11:59pm on Saturday. It means Australians returning home will not be allowed to complete the mandatory 14-day self-isolation period at home, but will instead be taken straight to a state-run quarantine centre. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said more than two-thirds of Australia' s known coronavirus cases could be attributed to people returning from overseas.

CQV also said 2,823 staff had undergone N95 mask fit-testing and returned travellers would undergo COVID-19 tests on arrival as well as days four, 12 and 14.

Staff sign-in processes have been streamlined with a new QR app and there were additional screening measures at Melbourne Airport for aerosol-generating devices.

Other measures for hotel quarantine workers include:

  • PPE training for all hotel quarantine staff
  • Daily COVID tests on site before each shift
  • Voluntary staff testing on days off with incentive payments
  • Staff screening at checkpoints including temperature checks

Cautious optimism for revamped hotel quarantine system

The University of Melbourne's head of global health, Nancy Baxter, said the new measures adopted as part of the revamped program were stringent, protective and transparent.

"It hits all of my key points. Staff are vaccinated, protected with proper personal protective equipment, and aerosol transmission seems to be accepted and mitigated against," Professor Baxter said.

"I guess it's third time lucky, but obviously you make your own luck as well."

Returned travellers land in Victoria for the first time in two months

  Returned travellers land in Victoria for the first time in two months The first international passenger flight in two months has landed in Victoria, marking the third official restart of the state's troubled hotel quarantine program. Sri Lankan Airlines flight UL604 from Colombo touched down about 4.22am on Thursday, with passengers taken by bus to the Intercontinental on Collins Street in the CBD, where they will remain for a fortnight.It's expected a total of 106 passengers will arrive in the state on Thursday, with more flights expected from Doha, Dubai and Singapore.

Professor Baxter said there was still room for improvement, including by ensuring hotel quarantine workers had their first COVID-19 vaccine dose at least two weeks before working in the hotels.

"It would also be good to know that their families and the people they live with are vaccinated as well, because that just gives you one more layer of protection," she said.

"The more layers we can have, the more protection we have against this coming into our community."

Leading occupational hygienist Kate Cole said the revamped program successfully addressed deficiencies in the previous hotel quarantine system.

"Victorians should be incredibly confident with this overhauled scheme, particularly when you look at the focus placed on preventing airborne transmission," Ms Cole said.

"Expert reviews into ventilation, mandating airborne precautions like N95 respirators, fit-testing and training, they are all key measures that prevent infection."

Ms Cole said Victoria was now setting the standard and leading the country in hotel quarantine.

"It's exactly what we need to see happen all around the country," she said.

"Without those types of measures put into place in hotel quarantine, what's at risk is really another public health outbreak."

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Victorian government makes 'no apology' as Brisbane arrivals get mixed advice on hotel quarantine .
A man who tried to travel to Victoria from Brisbane before it was declared a red zone says he was forced into hotel quarantine, despite repeated assurances from the Department of Health he would not be. Sam, who did not want his last name used, told the ABC he had booked a 5:55pm AEST flight from Brisbane to Melbourne on Monday afternoon, to see his family for the Easter long weekend.Melbourne declared Brisbane a red zone from 6:00pm Monday night.Sam said he spoke to the Department of Health at 3:45pm while he was at the airport and they confirmed that because his flight was departing before 6:00pm, his orange permit would stand.

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