A new report (above) has found that New Zealand’s quarantine system for returned international travelers was unable to cope due to extreme stress amid high levels of demand.
The report highlighted weaknesses in the system relating to things such as the use of PPE and a lack of standard procedure for health and well-being checks.
The report was commissioned by the government after it was revealed two women were released from quarantine early on compassionate grounds and without being tested, allowing them to travel from Auckland to Wellington where they tested positive to the coronavirus.
We have witnessed similar troubles in Melbourne where failures at two quarantine hotels caused outbreaks of COVID-19:
Multiple federal government sources have confirmed concerns about the lack of expert medical personnel advising hotel workers, who have the task of delivering food and escorting guests without appropriate personal protective equipment…
The same private security firm oversees quarantine arrangements at both the Stamford Plaza and Rydges hotels where infected staff members have spread the virus to close contacts and contributed to family outbreaks that forced the Victorian government to reintroduce restrictions…
Health Minister Greg Hunt told the ABC on Tuesday morning that the hotel quarantine system was the nation’s “defence against importing cases from around the world”…
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is rightfully livid:
Australian Medical Association President Tony Bartone has seized on Victoria’s breach of hotel quarantine infection control and its escalating COVID-19 outbreak as evidence of the need for an independent centre for disease control…
Victoria has had an issue with its quarantine hotels, after at least 33 staff members were infected with COVID-19 and took the virus home to their families.
A few weeks back we learned that international students would begin to be flown into Australia from July with Canberra and Adelaide receiving the first charter flights. Other jurisdictions are expected to follow, with international students to be quarantined for two weeks, paid for in part by Australian taxpayers.
MB has opposed this plan from the outset on grounds that:
- It could greatly increase the spread of COVID-19 given the widespread quarantine failures experienced to date;
- Australian taxpayers should not have to bear any of the costs; and
- It is unfair to import international students into Australia when we are not allowed to travel abroad and cannot freely travel interstate.
Clearly, the clusters of cases at quarantine hotels demonstrates just how risky any significant return of international students would be.
Their claim of a “COVID-19 safe corridor” is marketing spin. There is no such thing. The risks of further outbreaks would only multiply with thousands of international students arriving.
Australia’s international border must remain closed to everyone except returning citizens and permanent residents. No exceptions.