AMA calls for urgent action on hotel quarantine

10 Feb 2021

The latest cases of COVID-19 transmission in Victoria are yet another failure of infection control systems in hotel quarantine and show the need for urgent action nationally, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.  

The Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport has been evacuated and more than 950 hotel quarantine workers are in self-isolation after two new cases were identified.  

“This new, more infectious UK strain has blown open cracks in infection control systems in hotel quarantine system, putting the nation at risk,” Dr Khorshid said.  

“It’s clear that these cases are the result of airborne spread, yet the experts advising Government, the Infection Control Expert Group (ICEG), are still saying that aerosol transmission is not a problem in hotel quarantine.  

“The AMA and much of the wider medical profession have been calling for better responses to the risk of airborne spread for months.  

Dr Khorshid urged the Infection and Control Panel (IPC) formed by the National COVID-19 Evidence Taskforce and ICEG – which was commissioned to look at healthcare worker protections – to do more.  

He highlighted that the protections afforded healthcare workers must be extended to hotel quarantine workers – they are at the front lines of facing this new strain.  

Last September, Minister Hunt committed to research on aerolisation, announcing a partnership between ICEG and the National COVID-19 Evidence Taskforce.  

“It’s been almost six months and the IPC are yet to produce the goods. We can’t wait any longer for ICEG to act on the evidence,” Dr Khorshid said.  

“It is clear, as the AMA raised in our appearance at the recent Senate inquiry, that ICEG has failed in its duties to date.  

“Ministers, through National Cabinet, need to act and act now. Smart changes need to be made to airflow in facilities, and better personal protective equipment (PPE) including N95 masks and goggles for workers in hotel quarantine.” 

Read the full media release here.