Concern over hotel quarantine virus spread

Australia is keeping a close watch on coronavirus cases in hotel quarantine from people arriving from India, after the virus spread out of the system in Perth.

Western Australia’s Perth and Peel region on Saturday began a three-day lockdown after a hotel quarantine outbreak led to community transmission.

The virus spread in the corridors of a quarantine hotel in Perth, infecting a man who was staying adjacent to a couple with the virus who returned from India.


The man had tested negative before returning home to Victoria, spending time in venues across Perth – and infecting a friend.

He has been staying at a Victorian “health hotel” for international arrivals with COVID-19 since Thursday, before his positive test came back on Friday morning.

Victorian authorities are contacting people who were on the same flight from Perth to Melbourne as the man.

New Zealand, which last week opened a trans-Tasman travel bubble, on Friday announced a pause on travel from Western Australia due to the Perth outbreak.

Meanwhile, NSW Health announced it would screen all flights from Perth to identify those who had visited WA venues of concern.

“NSW will reflect the stay at home restrictions that apply to Western Australia,” it said.

Queensland from midnight will require any resident who has been in Perth or Peel since April 17 to enter hotel quarantine for up to 14 days while non-residents will require an exemption to enter and also must quarantine.

Anyone entering Queensland before midnight is required to obtain a COVID test and remain at home until 2am on April 27, only going out for essential reasons once they have received a negative test.

Tasmania has declared Perth and Peel high-risk regions, with travel and quarantine rules imposed for those coming into the state who may have been in those regions.

The NT has also declared Perth and the Peel region COVID-19 hotspots.

WA Premier Mark McGowan has asked Prime Minister Scott Morrison if the state can halve the number of weekly international arrivals over the next month, from 1025 to 512.

The hotel where the outbreak occurred is no longer being used for hotel quarantine.

Another two hotels have been deemed “high-risk” for ventilation issues.

Mr McGowan said the hotel quarantine system was a huge logistical operation.

“It is a military style operation on a grand scale that has never been done before, and we are doing it with facilities that were not built for this purpose,” he told reporters in Perth.

The percentage of quarantine cases from India has jumped from 10 to 40 per cent.

India recorded a grim world record for the second consecutive day on Friday with more than 332,000 new cases, up from 314,835 in the previous 24 hours.

The federal government is cutting repatriation and direct flight arrivals by 30 per cent with India in the grips of the catastrophic outbreak.

People who have been in high-risk countries including India in the past two weeks will need to test negative for the disease within three days of boarding a flight to Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was comfortable with the measures announced but didn’t rule out increased restrictions if states and territories requested them.

Other countries could also be included in the restrictions, once Australia drafts its high-risk nation list.

Australia’s sluggish immunisation program continues to come under fire with a major reset underway.

AstraZeneca jabs will be available for people over 50 at state and territory vaccination centres as well as respiratory clinics from May 3, before being sent to all GPs from May 17.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration said on Friday it was reviewing three newly reported cases of blood clots that “were likely linked to vaccination”.

The cases were in a 35-year-old NSW woman, a 49-year-old Queensland man and an 80-year-old Victorian man.

The TGA said all three patients, who had had the AstraZeneca vaccine, were responding well to treatment and recovering.

© AAP 2021