I think we can safely say that hotel quarantine doesn’t work in stopping the spread of Covid-19. In my adopted state of Victoria, it was responsible for the ‘longest lockdown in the world’. And now, after enjoying a Covid free status for a few months, it’s back with a vengeance. Now I’m not one to play the blame game, but many people are saying it’s not our fault this time. And I completely agree with them. The South Australian hotel quarantine system must take responsibility for our latest outbreak.
How did it happen?
A traveller returned to Australia from overseas. He then spent two weeks in hotel quarantine in Adelaide, South Australia. After his mandatory quarantine he received the-all clear to return home to Victoria. Authorities revealed there were no major breaches that caused the spread of the virus. Despite that, after a few days in the community the man tested positive.
CCTV footage shows that he opened the door of his hotel room to receive a meal delivery. This was only seconds after a door across the corridor was opened. And as we now know, if someone is infectious, they can spread the virus by particles that remain in the atmosphere. The particles can linger in the air long after a door has been shut and the infectious person is behind closed doors. This seems to be especially problematic in hotel quarantine where ventilation may be poor. Then these perilous particles hang about outside rooms and hotel corridors waiting for unsuspecting victims to contaminate.
A report found that “even this small window was “highly likely” to have been enough to see the virus transferred through the air, despite the two men not having so much as laid eyes on one another”.
The report urged the adoption of extra security measures in SA hotel quarantine, including having guests wear eye protection and facemasks when opening the door, and housing close contacts of COVID-19 patients in medi-hotels rather than hotel quarantine.
Hotels are for people on holidays
As we’ve seen time and time again, hotel quarantine is failing. But then hotels were never designed for quarantine purposes anyway. Not for quarantine of plants, nor animals, nor humans, nor anything else. Hotels were designed for people on holidays, people doing business – work and other things that could be construed as work. On the other hand, quarantine stations have always been built for the purpose of quarantining.
Even way back in 1852, a quarantine station was built in Victoria ‘to protect Australia from introduced diseases. The Point Nepean Quarantine Station was specifically built for European migrants to quarantine during the first few weeks in their new country. This facility was also used for quarantine purposes during the 1919 Spanish flu pandemic and the Bosnian war refugees of the 1990s. These days there is a lot of talk by the government about dedicated quarantine facilities but no real action. This is pretty scary given we are in the second year of the Covid – 19 pandemic.
The current situation in Victoria up until 31 May 2021
Contact tracers have now identified more that 10 000 primary contacts. The list of public exposure sites has grown to 320. These include shopping centres, markets, supermarkets, night clubs, sporting events, schools, and a German Shepherd dog club. The most concerning would have to be the mystery case of an Aged Care worker who has now infected two others – another worker and a resident.
During the previous lockdowns the virus was out of control in a huge number of Aged Care facilities. This led to the deaths of hundreds of residents around the state. No visitors were allowed to visit their elderly, sick and/or dying loved ones. Obviously, it was the workers spreading the virus through no fault of their own. Interestingly, the Federal Government announced that all aged- care residents would be the first to be vaccinated starting from 22 February this year. And within six weeks all residents would have had the jab. It is now the end of May and not even half the job has been done. But even more interesting is that aged-care workers were not included. They had to organise their own vaccinations and that wasn’t easy. It reminded me of my four-year-old grandson’s drawing of his treasure map. He drew an X ‘marks the spot’ but where was the treasure. It was nowhere to be found.
As usual this lockdown has devastated businesses again – more than 90 000 of them. I honestly don’t know how businesspeople survive these lockdowns. Tragically many of them don’t. This latest lockdown has created even more financial distress for them because there is no support coming from the Federal Government. In fact, there really has been no acknowledgment from Canberra about the dire situation in Victoria. To be fair, the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison and his wife are in New Zealand at the moment rubbing noses with Jacinda Ardern and talking about China.
But then there are the positives
Reading over this blog post I’ve come to realise it’s very dreary. So I tried to think of some positives for Lockdown #4. And I have three.
- Over 44 000 people rolled up a sleeve for a vaccination yesterday
- Thousands of people are getting tested and prepared to wait for hours in queues
- The police are outnumbering the ridiculous anti – vaxxers
So there you have it. The latest from Victoria, the outcast state of Australia.
Image: Thankyou Getty Images bbc.com/news/world-australia-54654646