/ 30 September 2021

Chickens come back to the quarantine hotel to roost…

Image source: AAP
Image source: AAP

Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services has been charged by the state’s workplace safety watchdog over its handling of the hotel quarantine program between March and July last year. WorkSafe yesterday confirmed that 58 health and safety charges have been levelled against the department – the main issue is the lack of infection prevention and control expertise and training for security workers. Each charge is punishable with a fine of up to $1.64 million take the total to more than $95 million.

Because COVID infections among security guards in 2 quarantine hotels in Melbourne in May and June last year led to the state’s 2nd wave that brought on a 14-week lockdown, killed 801 people, and led to more than 18,000 infections. Premier Daniel Andrews launched an investigation into the program, which inquiry chair Jennifer Coate described as an “orphan”. No one could be identified as the person responsible for making the decision to contract out hotel quarantine enforcement to private security providers. But heads did roll: the Premier’s Department head Chris Eccles and Health Minister Jenny Mikakos resigned over the scandal. As for what happens next, it’s heading to court on 22 October.

Or was it last week? It’s hard to reconcile the time warp that has been 2020-21… While we’re not talking about hotel quarantine breaches much anymore, the spread of COVID remains the talk of the town. Yesterday, Victoria recorded 950 new infections (the highest number ever recorded in a single day in the state) and 7 deaths (the most of this outbreak). Meanwhile in NSW, the new daily case number was 863 yesterday, and there were 15 deaths – the most the state has recorded since the pandemic’s start.

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