Victoria tightens hotel quarantine operations as worker contacts test negative

Victoria tightens hotel quarantine operations as worker contacts test negative

“Of course, we continue to use the N-95s and the face shields in the case of when they’re dealing with infected people and also when they enter rooms, which is rare but occasionally occurs in a medical emergency.”

Ms Neville said rooms accommodating large families in hotel quarantine would now be buffered.

“We have put in place a buffer around large families in all our hotels. We have taken about 140 rooms out of the hotel quarantine system as a result of that,” she said.

“We’re also now ensuring that any deliveries or meals are staggered so that you minimise any risk of a door opening at the same time.”

She said a ventilation review had also begun to ensure the state government was not “leaving any stone unturned”.

“We rejected a number of hotels at the time [the system was set up] and the ones that we have used throughout this program are hotels that do not share air between rooms or into common areas,” she said.

“But we’re looking at is there anything else we can do to strengthen our ventilation systems across our hotels?”

She said two “issues of concern” were the way the hotel quarantine worker at the Grand Hyatt became infected and the case of potential aerosol transmission of COVID-19 between members of the public within Park Royal hotel quarantine.

Door rules to counter ‘viral fog’

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said it was likely the transmission between residents at Melbourne’s Park Royal hotel earlier this week was the result of doors being opened at the same time.

But Professor Sutton said he was “not sure we’ll find out exactly what happened” when it comes to the infection of a 26-year-old hotel quarantine worker on Wednesday.

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“Certainly for the Park Royal transmission, it does look like it’s a case of doors being opened at the same time,” he told reporters on Saturday morning.

“For the Park Royal, you know, there was an entire family who were infected. They were in their room, all shedding virus, which would have contributed to a very high kind of viral fog, if you like, that would have been a particular risk.

“So, that’s being addressed now. That’s an issue that was present for food deliveries, but it was also an issue for when individuals get tested on their routine testing times.

“Sometimes even when you don’t know, you just need to look at the system issues across the board, apply them for each and every person who’s in quarantine, and try and tighten it across each and every quarantine setting.”

A review of last year’s Queensland outbreak in hotel quarantine released on Friday recommended CCTV be installed on every floor in that state’s system, a move Premier Annastasia Palaszczuk said she was immediately implementing.

Ms Neville confirmed that not every Victorian hotel used for quarantining returning travellers had CCTV on every level.

“It varies. Some hotels do, like Park Royal have it on every floor, others don’t,” she told reporters on Saturday morning.

“Again, we’ll look at all the recommendations out of that and get advice from the public health team about what is the best things that we need to invest in. If it’s CCTV, yeah, absolutely.”

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Health authorities had used CCTV to try and decipher how a 26-year-old residential support officer at the Grand Hyatt contracted COVID-19, but they have been unsuccessful so far.

Zero cases as Grand Hyatt contacts test negative

Victoria on Saturday recorded no new COVID-19 cases a day. There were no new locally acquired cases or new infections registered in hotel quarantine as 23,227 tests were completed in the past 24 hours.

The Victoria Department of Health said on Friday night that all of close contacts linked to the positive Grand Hyatt COVID-19 case in Melbourne this week have tested negative.

Health Minister Martin Foley said 60 per cent of people who visited Victorian exposure sites while a COVID-positive hotel quarantine worker was present had now tested negative.

Mr Foley said there had not been any virus spread from the Australian Open hotel quarantine worker who tested positive on Wednesday.

Mr Foley told reporters on Saturday morning that all of the man’s personal and household close contacts had tested negative.

The health department had called all of the man’s 767 workplace contacts and their testing was “very well-progressed”, he said.

Of the 362 close contacts who had attended the 14 exposure sites the 26-year-old Noble Park man visited, 60 per cent had now tested negative.

“I want to thank all of those people for coming forward, getting tested and doing the right thing,” Minister Foley said.

“This is encouraging, but there will be more results needed over the next few days. The next 48 hours will be critical in making sure that we’re in a position to get on top of this.”

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He said the completion of 23,000 tests on Friday was a “huge effort” for Victorians.

“There’s been a massive public health effort supported so strongly by the Victorian community over the last few days, to make sure that we stay safe, and at the same time stay open,” Minister Foley said.

Professor Sutton while it was “early days” it was fantastic to see another day of no new locally-acquired cases.

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“A zero day is a great day on any day, but in particular with this strain, first identified in the UK, having no positive results out of those exposure sites and numerous primary close contacts is very encouraging,” he said.

“But as I said yesterday, it is early days. We do need to see that full 14 days of the incubation period play out before we can be absolutely happy that we’re in safe territory.”

Tennis officials have also confirmed all 507 players and staff tested for COVID-19 in Melbourne on Thursday returned negative results.

The negative results came as authorities continue to investigate the apparent airborne transmission of the virus in hotel quarantine, when a family of five with a high viral load in the room possibly infected a returned passenger across the hallway.

Spectators watching the tennis at the Australian Open will still have to wear masks when the roof is closed at major courts Rod Laver Arena and Margaret Court Arena.

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