AMA: Australia’s quarantine system ill-equipped for COVID fight

Australian Medical Association (AMA) president Omar Khorshid has warned that Australia’s hotel quarantine system is ill-equipped to ward off new super strains of COVID-19 tearing across the UK and elsewhere:

Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid told The Australian he was concerned that the UK virus or another super strain could enter Australia and escape hotel quarantine.

“We’ve already seen our quarantine systems fail significantly with the virus escaping from quarantine in Victoria, NSW and South Australia; we’ve also seen breaches of quarantine in other places like WA although with no transmission occurring,” Dr Khorshid said.

“But with this highly transmissible variant of COVID, either the UK or South African one, there’s going to be more potential for that spread to occur from an infected traveller to a quarantine worker”…

Dr Khorshid backed moves to test all returning travellers before they left the country of origin. “It’s not going to be foolproof because obviously people could test negative and still have the virus, but at least you would reduce the chances of somebody who’s already carrying one of these highly transmissible variants getting on an aeroplane,” he said.

As we keep saying, effective quarantine is Australia’s first and best defence against the virus. It is Australia’s number one risk area and where the greatest emphasis and resources from our governments must be placed. No other COVID-19 mitigation measure comes close to having an robust quarantine system. And failures to quarantine effectively can have disastrous consequences, as witnessed in Melbourne and to a lesser extent Adelaide and Sydney.

Australia’s governments simply must get quarantine arrangements right if we are to avoid further damaging virus outbreaks. They cannot continue to cut corners and make the same mistakes.

The federal government must also take the lead and stop passing responsibility to the states.

Effective quarantine requires:

  • Housing international arrivals away from population centres (e.g. regional army bases);
  • Utilising only highly trained and well paid staff;
  • Ensuring these staff work in dedicated teams (to avoid cross-contamination) and remain on base throughout their deployment (similar to mining FIFO workers); and
  • Regular testing of quarantine staff and guests.

The federal government is best placed to coordinate and fund Australia’s quarantine effort. It also has constitutional responsibility for quarantine arrangements.

The federal government must take control of the situation, not continue to pass the buck.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. In all this time that we had available there has been no move to set up quarantine facilities at remote non suburban locations. What a wasted opportunity. Wonder if they decide to keep using hotels to funnel money to the operators owners of said hotels as of court they would all likelihood be empty under the current situation.

    • Ukraine fnMEMBER

      Back in March 2020 in SA they showed a news report on the MSM that the disused Wakefield hospital was setting up with ventilators ,beds,etc to give us a cense of security that all was under control which as of a few weeks ago was proven to be a photo op with props and since March 2020 nothing was done in that facility and they were now looking to set up a medi hotel elsewhere after Security/Pizzagate lying episode.
      The State Govt (like most of the others) can’t help themselves from trying the cheapest crappiest way to manage quarantine instead of over delivering for the sake of the great unwashed safety as well as giving business the chance to head towards some type of recovery.
      Criminal .

      • Not cheap and crappy, it is a way to funnel $$$$ to the right people.
        Special deals for special mates at play here.

    • kiwikarynMEMBER

      In NZ the excuse for not opening MIQ facilities in non urban areas was that they did not possess the appropriate level of medical facilities to manage the sick people. Although since no one arriving here has actually been taken to hospital since this thing started, its not much of an excuse now.

  2. “Ensuring these staff work in dedicated teams (to avoid cross-contamination) and remain on base throughout their deployment (similar to mining FIFO workers); ”
    Except it isn’t similar to FIFO as the requirement for a 2 week quarantine post your last shift makes 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off or anything similar completely impractical. The only practical way I see is requiring people to do 3 or 6 month stints at a time and good luck getting the required numbers of people without paying huge salaries.
    If anyone has a practical alternative I’d love to hear it.

    • Shades of MessinaMEMBER

      I know a couple of people who have recently lost their jobs/businesses because of the shutdowns who would be first in line for these jobs.

      Cost is irrelevant when considering the alternative (which we have already experienced).

      • I call BS on first in line. Given the problems of FIFO with border closure I bet there are plenty of mining jobs going for anyone willing to move long term instead of FIFO.

        • Ukraine fnMEMBER

          Not that easy to rip up one’s life and move to where the work is after you have lost your job and or business in the middle of lockdowns and border closures. I call BS on your simpleton solutions to everything.

        • Shades of MessinaMEMBER

          A bloke who used to run a service business is not all that well suited to a technical role on a remote mine site.

          But if you gave him some quick training I am pretty sure he could pick up how to drive a bus or point directions to people in an airport. He could even do it in the city he currently lives in given that’s where the airport is !!!.

          Offer enough money and decent conditions and people will take up the jobs no despite the restricted conditions no problem at all.

          • If he can drive a bus, he can drive a dump truck. Most of the day to day operations of digging stuff out of the ground aren’t all that technical.

            @Ukraine fn Can you please make up your mind. Are these people going to be first in line for these remote location jobs, or is it a simpleton solution that can’t work, or are you just fence sitting, or ???

  3. Shades of MessinaMEMBER

    Australia has had 9+ months to consider, discuss and implement best processes around containment yet we still have our heads firmly stuck up our @sses.

    Perhaps we can just contract out our state/federal quarantine system to a supposedly third world government like Vietnam. Or failing that maybe just ask politely what they are doing so well and copy them…..

    • MountainGuinMEMBER

      Yeah, not sure how much is happening behind the scenes, but there is very little public comment to give us assurances in relation to the uk variant.. As the Cwth is in charge of quarantine it would seem to be up to them to plan the next tighter stage of quarantine arrangements even if states run it. But cwth comments seem to still be that it is fully the states role and the cwth taking leadership would also mean taking some responsibility.
      Army bases are a good idea. Temporary facilities built on or next to airport land may be another.

  4. ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

    It’s getting close to Ermo!
    according to sewer testing.
    Rydalmere is on the list.
    Think I’ll stop going to my gym there for a few weeks.
    On my way to Cooks plumbing supplies at North Rocks I passed the drive through Covid testing at an Oatlands Seven day Adventist church.
    It had no que so I drove in and got myself tested almost straight away.
    Apparently I’ll get the results in 24 to 36 hrs.
    But I’m arguing with my mate about whether I’m supposed isolate or not.
    I thought only those displaying symptoms, in a house hold with someone who has or if you have attended a know spreader location have to isolate.
    Not everyone who chooses to get tested.
    My mate reckons anyone who is tested has to isolate until results come in.
    Can anyone clarify this for me?

    • boomengineeringMEMBER

      Let us know how you go. Met up with a regular guy this morn haven’t seen for a while. No way he’s getting any jabs mentioned 1984.
      Seems this flu is dividing and recruiting many average Joes into conspiracy theorists. But at least a lot are now pulling their head out of the sand and looking around.

      • Hysteria reigns. Going along with the hysteria has been a political winner, hence the continual push of hysteria. There’s a feedback loop that has meant this insanity just keeps going on.

        Best to deal with the hysteria.

    • “My mate reckons anyone who is tested has to isolate until results come in.”
      Your mate is right. Whether that is good policy or bad that discourages people form getting tested I leave as an exercise for the reader.

      “You must self-isolate if you
      have been tested for COVID-19 and haven’t yet received your result

      @Boom, I would consider the nutjobs wise in this instance. The companies making the vaccines have asked for and received special exemptions from legal responsibilities for any side effects of their vaccines, presumably because they know they haven’t had anywhere near enough time to actually test them properly and have no idea what could happen with wide use let alone longer term issues that may occur.

      • Ukraine fnMEMBER

        bjw678 if you read Shades of Messina post properly he was referring to the unemployed people to be given the opportunity to do the quarantine work within their own state under “FIFO” type conditions not run off to the mines . This would be easier to possibly manage than uprooting your whole life to another state and doesn’t matter how much it costs as a job is made and the quarantine would be tighter and more effective. Plenty of welfare for the top end of town so far in this pandemic it’s about time the Fed and State Govts give a leg up to the other 95% of us here in Aus .

        • The problem is FIFO is not compatible with 2 weeks quarantine after potential contact. You let people FIFO without a 2 week quarantine, you may as well just continue quarantining in the cities. To do it properly it is literally uprooting your whole life for 6 months or more for the staff.

          Edit: the problem you are trying to solve is the staff walking out of the hotels people are quarantining and into the community while infected. You let people fly home and a day after they are in contact they are out in the community while potentially infected.

          • kiwikarynMEMBER

            Dont know about you guys, but here we have people constantly trying to escape their hotels. Not much point in that if you are 300km from the nearest liquor store. The other trick that happens on a daily basis is the fire alarms being set off, so that people are evacuated and while milling around the carpark assembly point (no social distancing possible, and with new arrivals mingling with those about to be released), they can meet up with members of the public for a pre-arranged drop of drugs. Being in the desert with no one allowed within 20 miles of the place would also solve this problem.

      • kierans777MEMBER

        “You must self-isolate if you have been tested for COVID-19 and haven’t yet received your result or you’re the Premier in which case who gives a f***”

        Fixed it for you and NSW Health.

      • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

        If I had known this I wouldn’t have got tested.
        Only did it to “Do the right thing”
        I won’t be getting another test unless I start coughinh up half a lung.

  5. kierans777MEMBER

    > The federal government must take control of the situation, not continue to pass the buck.

    And the MSM needs to report on said buck passing. The only MSM journalist I can think of that has even discussed the federal government’s abrogation of their quarantine responsibilities has been Peter Van Onselen.

    Perhaps some mass letters to the editor would be called for here.

  6. ~$3k for a room without a window or Melatonin (Can’t tell the time of day!) & it goes up from there to rooms with views, balconies, to motels with gyms, to Celebrity & Diplomat private security at home arrangements. – User pays. Who’d want to ruin a nice little Crony gig like that?

    A military son of a mate went cheap when coming back from OS duties because he didn’t know about the capitalist tiers. No faces, no chat, no clean sheets or towels, minimal food left at the door. He set a routine for each day, alarm at 7am, exercise, Lappy, movies, TV, exercise, book, alarm for bedtime because he had no way of knowing whether it was daylight or dark. I’d consider him well balanced, but he nearly went spare. By day 10 he was willing it to be over. Reckoned when he came out there were some released around him with spooky looks in their eyes. He’s heading back OS (to hell on earth), but next time he comes home he’s paying extra for a Window & Gym experience.

    • Those rooms you describe are clearly not fit-for-purpose if the purpose is 14 days quarantine. They are unfit to stay inside 24/7. This is common sense.

  7. All I can is I agree with this post. As a short term crisis measure I can understand the use of otherwise vacant hotels for quarantine. But there should of always been a plan to migrate away from that system as it obviously isn’t a “medical grade” quarantine area especially against a contagious virus like COVID.

    Testing isn’t enough – false negative test results are already seen to be a risk in certain cases.