Australia COVID-19 test requirement 'sensible' for snow visitors, says infection control expert

01:31  18 june  2021
01:31  18 june  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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An infection control expert believes it is "sensible" for Melbourne residents to be required to undergo a COVID-19 test before heading to Alpine resorts.

The Victorian government announced on Wednesday that Melbourne visitors can travel to the snow on the condition they return a negative COVID-19 test in the 72 hours before their planned visit.

Infection control expert Professor Mary-Louise McLaws said the rule was "very sensible" because, despite visitors spending a lot of time outdoors, they would also be indoors resting within resorts.

"Melbourne has had the Delta and the Kappa strain … Delta is highly infectious," Professor McLaws said.

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"It can be up to 70 per cent more infectious than any wild strain. It's more infectious than the Alpha strain," she said.

Professor McLaws said warm, indoor areas were the perfect environment for spreading infection but said the virus did not discriminate.

"[Anyone who says] the virus itself likes one temperature, or one relative humidity, doesn't quite understand that this virus hooks onto bigger droplets and also hooks on to the smaller particles," she said.

"So, it is not just about temperature and humidity. It is about being close to people."

Questions have been raised as to whether those who are fully vaccinated should still need to be tested.

"The trials have proven that they are 100 per cent protected from death [and] 100 per cent protected from hospitalisation and severe infection," Professor McLaws said.

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"But we are only learning — in the real-world, phase four rollout — whether or not they are 100 per cent protected from symptomatic or asymptomatic infection and both of those conditions can cause transmission."

Professor McLaws said, however, recent evidence from younger people who had received the Pfizer vaccine in Israel and the US had shown that transmission would appear "less likely" — but not with a variant of concern, just with a less-infectious variant.

"You should get tested because you may be one of those people who haven't developed a perfect response. However, there are some better tests because a lot can happen in 72 hours," she said.

'Shock and horror'

Alpine Shire Council mayor John Forsyth said he reacted with "a bit of shock and horror" to the news that metropolitan visitors would have to undergo a COVID-19 test before attending the resorts.

Cr Forsyth said resort operators were unaware the restriction was coming, but the main issue was how the requirement was going to be policed at the resorts and the extra stress it would place on already stretched businesses.

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"That is going to be the interesting factor — and whether or not the government has thought this through, in particular the impost on businesses," Cr Forsyth said.

"And the angst you're going to get with people continually asking, 'Show me your green tick' or 'Show me whatever it is that you've got'."

Cr Forsyth said he understood the reasoning behind the mandatory testing and said it was "probably the correct thing to do".

"Its just how to we manage it. That's what we've got to get through," he said.

"Are they going to do it on postcodes, as they've done before, or how are they going to do it?

"I don't have a Melbourne postcode so, theoretically, I should be able to just go straight up there, but I am going to have to stop and show where my postcode is anyway."

Confusion continues

Victoria cross border commissioner Luke Wilson said he was unaware of how the COVID-19 testing requirements would be monitored in Alpine areas.

"I don't know what the arrangement is for doing that," he said.

"One thing I do know is that, if you have a friend or someone from Melbourne intending to come up, they probably want to try and get the test the full 72 hours out."

Mr Wilson said he would encourage all travellers to have the test as early as possible before travelling, to allow enough time for results to come back.

"We know, sometimes, the results happen within a day but, quite often, it can take a couple of days, so you certainly wouldn't want to cut it fine."

[Zendesk COVID form embed]

Rapid Covid tests SHUNNED by Dan Andrews has condemned snowfields .
Victorian ski fields face another bleak winter thanks to a pig-headed Labor government that refuses to take its foot off the throat of its tired citizens. On Wednesday, Melburnians were told they would require proof that they had received a negative polymerase chain reaction Covid test within the past 72 hours before they would be allowed onto a Victorian ski field. The decree by Premier Daniel Andrews' government will mean children as young as three will need to be tested before being allowed to glide down a snowy hill on a toboggan.

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