60 Minutes has done a terrific job exposing the Andrews Government’s hotel quarantine failure, which has caused the disastrous COVID-19 outbreak across Victoria and the East Coast.
The report highlights the shambolic scheme in all of its entirety, including:
Use of untrained (low wage) guards.
Lack of PPE use (instructed by the Victorian Government).
Zero testing of guests for COVID-19.
Security guards sleeping on the job.
Security guards socialising with each other and letting guests out.
Guards sleeping with guests.
Recall the long list of failures already reported by the media:
Security companies were being paid for workers that didn’t exist.
Lack of guards to properly secure the hotels due to these “phantom” people.
Guards were given minimal training (six hours of infection control training, some had only 5 mins).
Guards not following proper procedure – shaking hands, sharing lifts, sharing lighters, not wearing masks.
Guards wore personal protective equipment for up to eight hours without changing it.
Some guards not to wearing PPE at all.
Some guards let families go between rooms to play cards and games with others.
Some guards were sleeping on the job.
Some guards slept with guests.
Subcontracting guards at cheaper rate instead of standard guards.
Subcontracting guards switching shifts between hotels.
leaked emails revealing that the Victorian Government knew of problems surrounding hotel quarantine in March but failed to take corrective action:
Top bureaucrats warned senior health officials at the beginning of the Andrews government’s botched hotel quarantine scheme that security guards were ill-equipped for the work and demanded police be called in to take control…
The first email raising concerns was sent by a senior bureaucrat at the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions within 24 hours of the March 28 launch of the program.
It was addressed to several senior officials at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which was the leading agency for the day-to-day management of hotel quarantine…
“We request that Victoria Police is present 24/7 at each hotel starting from this evening. We ask that DHHS urgently make that request as the control agency,” the email read…
Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions official sent a second email on March 30 demanding that DHHS request police support, suggesting private security companies were “not adequate” to guard the hotels.
The email recommended DHHS ban quarantined travellers from leaving their rooms for any reason, including exercise.
A top official from Emergency Management Victoria responded to the request by saying police were not required because guards could call triple zero if a situation warranted police involvement…
The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald revealed on July 3 that the Chief Health Officer was told of similar problems with the hotel quarantine system in mid-April…
Police Minister Lisa Neville said police were not the default agency for the management of the pandemic response in Victoria, as they were in other states…
The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald reported earlier this month that at least five agencies were involved in the decision to deploy private security guards, instead of soldiers or police, at quarantine hotels: Health; Jobs; Premier and Cabinet; Emergency Management Victoria; and Victoria Police…
And recall ABC 7.30 Report’s damning investigation last week:
With the virus almost eliminated among the community (see next chart), quarantine was Australia’s single best defence for stopping COVID-19 from being imported from abroad. It was the one area that our governments needed get right and should have been the number one priority.
Instead, the Victorian Government took the cheap and nasty option and contracted-out vital biosecurity to dodgy private security firms, rather than the Victorian Police or the Department of Corrections, without even issuing proper guidelines or PPE. These firms then used cheap untrained labour hire, resulting in widespread breaches, virus infections and community transmission.
The result is that Melbourne has been shutdown for months with no end in sight, with infections running rampant and spreading into other states.
History may look back on this debacle as one of Australia’s biggest and most costly public health disasters.
The Victorian Government must be held accountable.
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