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Australian states investigate COVID-19 spread in quarantine hotels

7 Comments
By Renju Jose

Two Australian states urged staff and guests in COVID-19 quarantine hotels to get tested immediately and fully self-isolate, launching investigations into three suspected cases of travelers contracting the virus from other residents.

Australia closed its borders to non-citizens and permanent residents more than a year ago to contain the pandemic, and travelers arriving from overseas are required to undergo a two-week hotel quarantine at their own expense.

New South Wales (NSW) and Western Australia state officials said genetic sequencing found links to the same sequence of virus in infected guests resident in Sydney and Perth hotels during routine tests. At this stage the cases, on either side of the country, are not believed to be connected.

"We don't have a definitive conclusion around the way the transmission occurred at this point in time," NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant told reporters on Thursday.

A guest staying in a quarantine hotel in Sydney, Australia's most populous city and NSW's state capital, tested positive for the virus with the same genetic sequence as infected people staying in a nearby room.

Authorities fear guests who tested negative at the end of their NSW hotel quarantine and were allowed to leave could have already been exposed to the virus, raising the risk of it spreading in the community.

"Because of the implications if that transmission event occurred in the hotel, the question is could other people have been exposed?," Chant said. Several hotel quarantine guests have already travelled to other states and territories, Chant said.

NSW authorities on Sunday said they would investigate how a family of three quarantined in a different Sydney hotel returned positive tests with the same virus sequence as a non-related family of four quarantined in the same building.

Meanwhile Western Australia state late on Wednesday said two sets of guests staying in a Perth hotel in opposite rooms were detected with the same sequence of virus, despite arriving from different countries at different times.

While Australia has fared much better than many other developed countries during the pandemic, with just over 29,500 cases and 910 deaths, the hotel quarantine cases come as its vaccination rollout program has hit major roadblocks.

Australia's national cabinet will meet later on Thursday and is expected to urgently include people above 50 years in its immunization drive to ramp up its vaccine rollout.

© (Thomson Reuters 2021.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

7 Comments
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Authorities fear guests who tested negative at the end of their NSW hotel quarantine and were allowed to leave could have already been exposed to the virus, raising the risk of it spreading in the community.

Isolation as a measure to stop spreading depends completely on this to be done properly, because of that failsafe mechanisms are also a necessity. it is extremely fortunate that in this case the system did not just assume blindly that isolated people cannot become positive while in isolation and instead tested also at the end of the quarantine.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Seems that isolation protocols are not being followed. Either the guests are mingling, or the staff are acting as a vector for the disease.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Putting a bunch of people in the same facility, some of whom may have the virus. And then being surprised at its spread?

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Australian states investigate COVID-19 spread in quarantine hotels

Oh jee. And these geniuses in the AUS government are surprised? Of course the virus spreads if you stick people close together in a tight locations and don´t allow them out. Maybe next they think of cruise ships?

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

These quarantine "hotels" were never designed to be medical isolation facilities and as such can not be expected to be effective in completely eliminating the threat of spreading covid. Perhaps each states capitol city needs to have purpose designed and built facilities for such times and for the rest of the time be government run cheap accommodations to pay for maintenance and upgrades over time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They were probably infected by a hotel worker, asymptomatic cases existing in the local population.

The nationality of arrivals is irrelevant. Test all passengers and crew before they get on the plane with a reliable test (not the quick ones).

If people do not have the virus, there is no point in quarantining them.

In a pandemic, hotels are best avoided - they represent an increased threat of contact with the virus. Self-catering allows you your own bubble.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If people do not have the virus, there is no point in quarantining them.

The entire reason for quarantining people is to ascertain if they are or are not infected. Incubation periods for covid are factored into the length of time for quarantine. People who test negative on day one are not necessarily virus free, they may test positive on day three or day five or day ten. That is what quarantine determines.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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