After the fatal flaws of its first hotel quarantine scheme, which relied solely on untrained private security, the Victorian government will launch its revised quarantine scheme on 7 December.
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley has promised the system will be robust:
“All Victorians can have confidence that the system that will be put in place will be the most rigorous in the nation”.
However, the government has released few details of the safeguards that will be in place to avoid another failure other than quarantine staff not being permitted work second jobs and only working at dedicated locations.
University of Melbourne epidemiologist Tony Blakely says the Victorian Government should consider adopting South Australia’s plan to use a dedicated health facility to quarantine returned travellers:
All COVID cases [in South Australia] will be transferred from the quarantine hotels to a dedicated facility — possibly an old hospital — where security will be carried out solely by police and protective services officers.
University of Melbourne epidemiologist Tony Blakely said the plan “has merit”. “You can certainly have higher levels of service and higher levels of (medical) practice,” he said.
It was also backed by Australian Medical Association president Dr Omar Khorshid, but he warned it would need to be done properly.
“The AMA obviously supports hotel quarantine that is put in place with proper care and highly trained medical and security staff,” he said.
Victoria must learn from its mistakes. This means employing only highly trained and highly paid permanent staff that work at a single facility only within single teams (to minimise risks of cross-infection), alongside frequent testing.
With Victoria having zero active COVID-19 cases, the only way for the virus to reemerge is through quarantine breaches that allow overseas-acquired infections to leak into the community.
Thus, the Victorian Government must do everything in its power, and spare no expense, to ensure that quarantine is conducted at the highest possible standard in the most robust way.
Running a robust hotel quarantine scheme must be the Victorian Government’s number one priority. It cannot fail again.