- Seven new locations across Melbourne have been added to a growing list of high-risk exposure sites linked to the Holiday Inn cluster as Victorians begin their first day of a snap five-day lockdown.
- Sydney residents returning from Melbourne will be forced into a five-day lockdown after Victorian health officials privately conceded that contact tracers took too long to get in touch with people exposed in Melbourne’s new coronavirus outbreak.
- A returned traveller blamed for spreading coronavirus through the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel by using a nebuliser says he was twice given permission from Victorian health authorities to use the medical device while in quarantine.
- Victoria’s bid to cut weekly hotel quarantine arrivals from thousands to just hundreds has set up a clash with the Morrison government, which believes the system can cope with the threat from new strains of the coronavirus without dropping numbers.
‘We’re not running it’: PM says he won’t take over hotel quarantine
Victoria’s bid to cut weekly hotel quarantine arrivals from thousands to just hundreds has set up a clash with the Morrison government, which believes the system can cope with the threat from new strains of the coronavirus without dropping numbers.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison dismissed talk of overhauling the system in a growing debate over federal and state responsibilities for border control and whether new facilities are needed to quarantine travellers.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews are set to clash over quarantining international arrivals.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen
“We’re not going to be running it,” Mr Morrison said of the hotel quarantine system on Friday.
One week after national cabinet raised the cap on international arrivals to about 6500 per week and said the new level should last to the end of April, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews paused all international flights into Victoria from Saturday.
The Premier also aired the idea of accepting only “hundreds” in Victoria each week over the longer-term, in new arrangements he wanted to raise with state and federal leaders.
“If I were to form a view that we only want to do a small number of compassionate Aussies coming home, it wouldn’t be to save money, it wouldn’t be to avoid the hard work,” Mr Andrews said.
“I would then say to the Prime Minister: ‘You can have all my hotel quarantine workforce to roll out the vaccine’.”
He did not elaborate on how those workers might support the vaccination program.
The federal government does not accept the Victorian idea that quarantine staff need to be redeployed to the vaccine rollout, given Canberra and the states are already lining up doctors, nurses and pharmacists to do the vaccinations.
Read more here.
‘I feel like a criminal’: Traveller says he told authorities about nebuliser
A returned traveller blamed for spreading coronavirus through the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel by using a nebuliser says he was twice given permission from Victorian health authorities to use the medical device while in quarantine.
Speaking to The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald from his bed in a Melbourne intensive care ward, the 38-year-old Victorian man said he declared his nebuliser to hotel quarantine staff, who also offered to source more Ventolin, the medication administered by the machine.
Cleaners wearing protective equipment disinfect the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel at Melbourne Airport this week.Credit:Getty Images
The severe asthmatic, who asked for his name not to be published to protect his family, said he had been left feeling like a criminal after reading media reports about the outbreak. The man had not tested positive to coronavirus when he used the nebuliser at the Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport.
He said his partner “had borne the brunt of the backlash” while caring for their three-month-old daughter. Both of them were also infected with the virus.
“If I was told that I couldn’t use it, I never would have used it,” he said. “The way it has all come out in the news and through the government has made it sound like I was using it illegally or that I have snuck it in or something like that. It’s been very distressing.
“You are left feeling like a criminal or that you’ve done the wrong thing. That has been the hardest thing in all this.”
The Holiday Inn cluster, which has so far infected 13 people, has triggered a lockdown across Victoria for five days in response to fears the highly infectious UK variant of coronavirus has spread throughout the community.
Read more here.
Sydney residents to be locked down after concerns raised about Victorian tracing efforts
Sydney residents returning from Melbourne will be forced into a five-day lockdown after Victorian health officials privately conceded to other states that contact tracers took too long to get in touch with people exposed in Melbourne’s new coronavirus outbreak.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Friday evening issued a health directive ordering anyone returning from Victoria after 11.59pm on Friday to stay at home until 11.59pm on Wednesday. The NSW government had initially indicated it would require anyone returning from Victoria since January 29 to isolate for five days but revised that date following advice from the state’s chief health officer.
Sydney residents who return from Victoria from midnight last night must also isolate for five days.Credit:
NSW Health was also urgently contacting about 7000 people from NSW who had attended venues of concern in Melbourne – including Melbourne Airport – in light of a growing coronavirus cluster in the city.
The outbreak of the highly contagious variant that leaked out of Melbourne’s Holiday Inn quarantine hotel grew to 13 on Friday, triggering a five-day Victoria-wide lockdown from Friday night.
During two meetings of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), Victoria’s Chief Health Officer came under pressure to explain why almost half of the close contacts from the cluster linked to the Melbourne Airport Holiday Inn were not contacted within the benchmark 48-hour period on Tuesday.
Read more here.
Seven new COVID-19 exposure sites identified in Melbourne
Seven new high-risk coronavirus exposure sites have been identified by Victorian health authorities, linked to the growing Holiday Inn cluster.
The new exposure sites, published by the Health Department overnight, include train lines and venues in Melbourne’s north and south-west.
Saturday, February 6
Function venue: 426 Sydney Rd, Coburg, 7.14pm-11.30pm
Monday, February 8
Coates Hire Werribee: Hoppers Crossing, 6.45am-7.30am
Caltex Woolworths: Hoppers Crossing, 6.40am-7.15am
Stowe Australia: South Melbourne, 10.30am-10.45am
Tuesday, February 9
901 bus route (Melb Airport to Broadmeadows Station) 1.02pm-1:49pm
Craigieburn Line train (Broadmeadows Station to Glenroy Station) 1.25pm-1.59pm
513 bus route (Glenroy Station towards Eltham) 1.35pm-2.17pm
The advice, released late last night, did not indicate whether the exposure sites related to a new or existing case. However, it said anyone who visited these locations must get tested and remain isolated for 14 days.
Read more here.
Good morning from locked-down Melbourne and welcome to another day of rolling coronavirus coverage.
Victorians have awoken to their first day of a snap five-day lockdown and can leave home for just four reasons: shopping for essentials, care and caregiving, work if it’s essential, and exercise.
Borders have also snapped shut around the state and NSW health officials have ordered Sydney residents returning from Melbourne to isolate for five days.
But the Australian Open tennis tournament – and other sports – will go on, sans crowds.
I’m Hanna Mills Turbet and I’ll be with you until mid-afternoon. Get in touch with a question, or leave a comment on the blog.
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