Melbourne hotel quarantine: coronavirus positive staff worked while infectious

Melbourne hotel quarantine: coronavirus positive staff worked while infectious

Two employees at Victoria’s hotel quarantine were reportedly at work while infectious since the program was overhauled in July.

The Department of Health and Human Services have confirmed to NCA NewsWire the pair were asymptomatic while at work.

Nine staff involved in the program have contracted coronavirus since the hotel quarantine program was reset in July, including five Spotless staff, one Victoria Police officer, one DHHS staff member and two from Alfred Health.

It is understood there hasn’t been a positive case since late August.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said he didn’t believe they were infected at the hotels, but the situation will be examined by Victoria’s hotel quarantine inquiry.

It comes as staff performing floor monitoring duties from contractor Spotless were replaced by police officers mid-shift at one of Melbourne’s remaining quarantine hotels on Wednesday.

The guards were subcontracted as floor monitors at the Novotel at South Wharf to check and report potential breaches to police.

NCA NewsWire understands Spotless roles were always envisaged to be temporary and police had a 24-hour presence at the sites in place since early July for resident supervision, which included roving checks of each floor.

Spotless were also engaged in other customer service roles at the quarantine hotels, including grocery bag and identification checks. Department of Justice and Community Safety staff will now complete those tasks.

The spokeswoman said measures were under way to increase training and infection control standards for the remaining Spotless cleaning staff.

On Thursday Premier Daniel Andrews vigorously maintained that Spotless staff were not providing security despite the Department of Justice stating they had been performing a floor monitor role.

Alfred Health, which helps the justice department run the program, confirmed Spotless staff were not employed in security roles in hotel quarantine but had performed customer service and floor monitor roles until they were removed on Wednesday.

Victoria Police said in a statement they commenced the management of safety and security at two hotels being used as mandatory quarantine on July 17, and had a 24-hour presence at the sites.

They said their duties were expanded at the Novotel on Wednesday when the Spotless floor monitors were removed.

State Opposition leader Michael O’Brien said there were concerns the government’s hotel quarantine mistakes had put Victoria at risk of a third wave.

“Daniel Andrews has not learned the lessons, and for the Premier to claim that these people weren’t doing an enforcement role just shows you, he’s more interested in covering up than fixing it up,” he told the Herald Sun.

The justice department now operates a “health hotel” at the Novotel for positive cases or close contacts and a quarantine hotel at the Park Royal for people at risk of testing positive and required to self-isolate.

These hotels have still accepted overseas arrivals with exemptions since June – less than 100 – including health workers and maritime workers required to isolate.

The Grand Chancellor’s involvement in the program ceased last month, and the remaining guests at the Brady Hotel were transferred to the Novotel on Monday and Tuesday.

Under the new model for COVID-19 Accommodation, the justice department said it was decided supervision and floor monitoring would be exclusively performed by Victoria Police and the role of Spotless was phased out up until Tuesday.

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