Australia Perth's hotel quarantine system could see fewer security guards due to shortage of vaccinated workers
COVID vaccine rollout delays frustrate vulnerable Australians in priority group
Any Australian over the age of 50 will be able to get a COVID vaccine from May 3, but many vulnerable Australians are frustrated that they are still yet to be vaccinated despite being in the priority group. Margaret Ruff's son Raymond, 45, contracted meningitis as a child and is now intellectually disabled and cannot talk, he also has hemiplegia and epilepsy.He lives in a disability care home in the Melbourne suburb of North Fitzroy with four other residents and their carers but Mrs Ruff said no-one there, including staff, had been vaccinated.
Western Australia's hotel quarantine system could see a significant reduction in security guards from Monday, due to a shortage of vaccinated workers.
At least 30 per cent of the security guards staffing WA's quarantine hotels have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, just four days out from a government-imposed deadline.
But the government has indicated a reduction in guards could be managed due to the reduced number of returning Australians quarantining in WA.
A spokesman for Health Minister Roger Cook confirmed on Wednesday that around 70 per cent of security guards had received their first dose of the Pfizer injection.
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It was not clear how many security guards were fully vaccinated.
A security guard at the Pan Pacific in Perth —— had received his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Last month the state government announced hotel quarantine workers who had not been vaccinated would be prevented from entering quarantine facilities from May 10.
The government moved to finalise the public health order mandating the vaccine in late April to "enable enough time for quarantine workers to get fully vaccinated."
It said the Pfizer vaccine, which has a shorter period between doses than AstraZeneca, had been made available to hotel quarantine workers since the rollout began in late February.
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The government spokesman indicated a reduction in staff would be manageable given the reduction in people quarantining in WA.
"The international arrival cap was cut in half 10 days ago so the number of people in the quarantine hotels is reducing every day," he said.
The maximum number of arrivals into WA was halved to 512 following the recent outbreak at the Mercure Hotel which sparked a three-day lockdown.
On Wednesday Premier Mark McGowan told state parliament the number of people in quarantine in WA had already started to fall.
"At the moment we have around 1,900 people in hotel quarantine and that number is reducing because we sought and received a reduction in the cap last week," he said.
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Mr McGowan announced last week that three Perth hotels which had been deemed "high risk" would be axed from the COVID-19 quarantine program.
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Mr McGowan said this would lead to a permanent reduction in the number of people quarantining in WA, and that he would soon advise the Prime Minister what that number would need to be.
Opposition health spokeswoman Libby Mettam called for the government to explain what would happen on May 10, when it became mandatory for all hotel quarantine workers to be vaccinated.
"Does that mean there will be hotel security guards out of their positions? Does that mean there will be a significant reduction in hotel security?" she said.
"The McGowan Labor government have dragged their feet to ensure all hotel security guards are vaccinated.
"It does not sound like there has been much progress in this space and it does raise the question about how they will meet the May 10 deadline next week."
Health Minister Roger Cook said the vaccine uptake among other hotel quarantine workers was higher.
Mr Cook said more than 80 per cent of hotel workers across the WA network were vaccinated, and more than 90 per cent of healthcare workers had received the shot.
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