Experts in Australia are “gobsmacked” to learn the hotel quarantine programme was left out of Victoria’s key taskforce on infection control for frontline health workers and the policies were not applied to the embattled system.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has also declared Victoria “cannot be trusted” to manage hotel quarantine until it is fully restructured after Victoria was this week forced into a third lockdown due to a cluster at the Holiday Inn hotel quarantine site at Melbourne Airport.
Last year, the Healthcare Worker Infection Prevention and Wellbeing taskforce was set up to tackle the issue of frontline workers catching Covid-19.
Up to 80 percent of the thousands of healthcare workers who caught Cvid-19 last year in Victoria were infected at work.
The taskforce includes experts, hospital chiefs, WorkSafe and Safer Care Victoria.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton is on the taskforce, and it is chaired by Chief Medical Officer Andrew Wilson from Safer Care Victoria.
It also includes unions representing paramedics, allied health professionals, doctors and nurses.
Despite the taskforce’s work to reduce infections on the frontline, and the constant review of practices, the information has not been shared or applied with Covid-19 Quarantine Victoria (CQV), taskforce members have told the ABC.
Unions frustrated information not shared with hotel quarantine
The issue was raised at a taskforce meeting this week, with members only now agreeing that the information would be shared.
This left AMA president Julian Rait “bewildered” and “gobsmacked”.
“It’s inexcusable,” Rait said.
“Until hotel quarantine is fully restructured, Victoria cannot be trusted to run hotel quarantine.”
The assistant secretary of the Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association (VAHPA) Andrew Hewat also sits on the taskforce.
He said it was evident important lessons coming out of the taskforce were not being applied to hotel quarantine.
“We are really frustrated and annoyed that there’s so much going on through the taskforce to identify failings, but it is not being applied to hotel quarantine, which you would think would be the most important,” Hewat said.
Premier Daniel Andrews said he understood hotel quarantine had its own panel on infection control.
“I think there is sharing of information goes on all the time, but they are not relying on what is going on in hospitals,” Andrews said.
“CQV have their own team. They are not looking to use somebody else’s team from another environment, and I think we could all agree on the fact that hospitals are different to hotels in many, many different ways. They are similar in some ways too.”
In his daily press conference, Andrews said it was his expectation that all relevant material within any Government department would be shared.
At another press conference, Federal Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said he still had full confidence in the Victorian quarantine system.
“They have run a very good quarantine system, as indeed all of the other states and territories are doing in their ways,” he said.