One of the country’s top doctors criticized Premier WA Mark McGowan’s claim that there was “no clear explanation” for how a hotel guard managed to get COVID.
Western Australia’s chief physician criticized the state government’s apparent confusion over how a hotel quarantine guard was infected with COVID-19 before infecting two of his housemates.
Premier Mark McGowan said Western Australia would avoid another blockade, but some restrictions would remain due to this weekend’s three new cases, which prompted some states to update travel advice for Western Australia.
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The guard had worked at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Perth on April 24, 25 and 26, at a time when newcomers were admitted to the hotel, and worked on the same floor as two travelers who returned with a positive test.
“CCTV’s vision is being revised, however, there is no clear explanation as to how the security may have been infected,” said McGowan on Sunday.
“It is possible that the transmission occurred while international arrivals were admitted to the hotel’s quarantine and possibly transferred to their rooms. This is being investigated in more detail ”.
But the chairman of the Australian Medical Association of WA, Andrew Miller, said there was no mystery surrounding the transmission and accused the state government of ignoring the warning that the virus was in the air and hotel ventilation was an issue.
Dr. Miller pointed out the findings of an independent review of quarantine in hotels in WA that identified airborne transmission and insufficient ventilation as the most significant risk factor for transmission of the virus in hotel quarantine.
The review’s findings promoted an assessment of ventilation at Perth’s nine quarantine hotels.
“The infection of the guard (again) in HQ (again) in WA (again) is not inexplicable, Premier,” Dr. Miller tweeted after McGowan’s press conference on Sunday.
“The government report itself makes it clear that airborne propagation is taking place.
“Using low-cost PPE (personal protective equipment) without transferring 30 positive cases to quarantine without clearance is crazy.”
Dr. Miller, who repeatedly called for a review of the WA hotel’s quarantine system, described it as an “expensive abusive joke that prevents suffering Australians from returning home, from India and elsewhere”.
“Remove the positive cases for the dongas next week,” he said, referring to temporary or demountable housing. “Use N95 PPE.”
Earlier this week, Dr. Miller told ABC’s RN Breakfast that the state should immediately switch to a model that uses N95 masks and negative pressure rooms – which is being adopted in Victoria – and build quarantine camps specially built for travelers who have returned.
Negative pressure rooms use lower air pressure than outside the room, which prevents contaminated air from escaping when the door is opened.
“Hotels were never fit for purpose, and we said that from the start,” said Dr. Miller to Fran Kelly of RN Breakfast.
“The problem is the federal Infection Control Expert Group, which continues to deny the problem of airborne spread and that people need N95 masks and negative pressure rooms in a hotel quarantine.
“Victoria seems to be getting the message and moving on, but until we move to airless facilities and accept that airborne COVID will be a problem everywhere … it will continue to happen in all hotels.”
Border changes after new cases of WA
States and territories have new advice for travelers in light of the new Perth cases, but New Zealand said flights to and from the city would resume.
Travel between New Zealand and Western Australia was interrupted after last week’s sudden blockade in Perth and Peel, but health officials in New Zealand said travel could begin again, as new infections do not appear to be a risk for the public.
However, anyone who has been to any location on the updated list of public exhibition venues in WA will not be allowed to enter New Zealand within 14 days of the exhibition.
Meanwhile, NSW Health sent screening teams to Sydney Airport on Sunday to greet Perth’s arrivals by contacting those who arrived from Perth since April 27.
The department said that anyone who has arrived in NSW from Perth since April 27 and has been to any of these locations should immediately isolate himself.
Queensland said that arrivals to the state that were at those locations should be quarantined.
“If you are entering Queensland and have been to any of the WA exhibition venues at the specified time, you will need to be quarantined for 14 days in government-arranged accommodation,” said Queensland Deputy Director of Health, Sonya Bennett.
“If you have been to any of these locations and are already in Queensland, you should call 13 HEALTH to discuss your circumstances.
“You must immediately travel by private transport directly to your home or accommodation and quarantine until you receive further instructions from Queensland Health.
“This guidance exists to protect the health and safety of Queenslanders and travelers who come here.”
The Australian Capital Territory has new measures for arrivals from Perth as it warns Canberrans against traveling to Western Australia.
Anyone arriving at ACT must declare whether they were in Perth or the Peel region in the 14 days prior to arrival, as well as who has been in these regions since April 27.