Hotel quarantine contractors replaced by police did not provide security
The contractors urgently stood down from a Melbourne quarantine hotel amid concerns over infection control were not guarding the site, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed.
Staff employed by Spotless were hastily pulled from the floor of the Novotel in Southbank yesterday and replaced by police after the state government was alerted about concerns over disease control.
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Mr Andrews today stressed the workers were there for "welfare" purposes and not hotel security.
"They were providing I think - I suppose you could say it was an extension of welfare work, I would have thought," he said.
"If you are not providing security, then you are not security staff."
Alfred Health provided healthcare to the individuals quarantining inside.
While Victoria Police members were used for hotel security.
"Victoria Police provide security. Private companies don't provide security," Mr Andrews said.
"This is a program that has been transitioned. It is a very different program to what it was. It will potentially have to change again once we get to a point where we have international flights coming back."
READ MORE:Victoria records 15 new cases as death toll reaches 800
A healthcare worker at one of the quarantine hotels told The Age she saw infection control breaches every day, similar to those that led to Victoria's deadly second wave.
The reports have appeared to spark immediate action from the government to avoid a possible third wave just as the state begins to gain control over the virus.
Victoria's hotel quarantine program for return overseas travellers ended in June, however the program is running for those that test positive but can't self-isolate at home.
This includes those vulnerable in the community and some living in housing commission towers.
READ MORE:Victorian doctors' plea to lift lockdown amid 'mental health crisis'
On Tuesday, the Victorian government confirmed nine workers at two quarantine hotels had contracted the virus since the overhaul, but claim they did not get the virus from working at the quarantine hotels.
The news comes just three days after the Victoria's COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry ended, revealing the state's system caused 768 deaths and more than 18,000 infections.
"This was a program which failed to meet its primary objective — to keep us safe from the virus," counsel assisting the inquiry Ben Ihle said.
The inquiry was told the scheme to protect Victorians from coronavirus was thrown together in less than two days in March.
One of the biggest questions put to the inquiry — the person or group responsible for deciding on the use of private security in quarantine hotels — remains unanswered.