A returned Australian in mandatory quarantine has been pictured wearing a large garbage bag over their head as they were evacuated out of a Melbourne hotel on the fourth day of Victoria’s snap lockdown.
The individual was one of 31 people moved from the Holiday Inn on Flinders Street on Tuesday morning where Covid-19 infected guests were housed while water damage from a sprinkler system is repaired.
The hotel is a ‘hot hotel’, meaning it accommodates returned travellers who have tested positive for Covid-19 or are presenting with symptoms, as well as those with complex medical needs.
The returned travellers were evacuated after a sprinkler system was activated on the hotel’s fourth floor on Saturday, resulting in water damage to half of the eight levels.
The evacuation came as Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed they were going to build a purpose-built ‘quarantine centre’ like in Howard Springs, as the government desperately try to plug the leaks in its inner-city hotel programs – where breaches have led to two crippling lockdowns.
But he again refused to commit to ending the lockdown on Wednesday.
A returned Australian evacuated from a Melbourne quarantine hotel emerged wearing a large rubbish bag over their head on Tuesday morning
The individual was one of 31 people who were evacuated out of the Holiday Inn on Flinders Street in central Melbourne after water damage from a sprinkler system
They evacuation on day four of Victoria’s snap lockdown was sparked by water damage to half of the hotel’s eight levels
The evacuated residents and staff are being transferred to the Pullman Albert Park Hotel, which COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria planned to bring online as an additional site after recently housing Australian Open participants.
‘(It) was assessed by ventilation experts and determined as the most suitable hotel within CQV’s current hotel stock to accommodate symptomatic and positive residents,’ a spokeswoman said.
‘Strict infection prevention and control measures will be followed during the transfer to ensure the health and safety of residents, staff and the community.’
Meanwhile, a Melbourne fruit market has been added to Victoria’s growing list of coronavirus exposure sites – as the state recorded two new locally-acquired infections.
The two local cases reported on Tuesday are close household contacts of a previously confirmed case linked to the Holiday Inn, taking the outbreak to 19 infections. They have also been linked to the private dining event in Coburg.
‘They’re not unexpected positives, although I will make it clear they did test negative some days ago, so they’ve been isolating and, as a result, there’s no further exposure sites,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘There’s no further risk, if you like, beyond them as close contacts.’
Mr Andrews declined to commit to ending the lockdown on Wednesday or reveal what restrictions will be lifted – but it is increasingly likely stay-at-home orders will be axed.
Residents and staff from the Holiday Inn on Flinders Street are being transferred to the Pullman Albert Park Hotel
The hotel is a ‘hot hotel’ meaning it accommodates returned travellers who have tested positive for Covid-19 or are presenting with symptoms. Pictured: Police outside the hotel
Cops are seen in front of the Holiday Inn Hotel on Flinders Street in central Melbourne on Tuesday morning as the evacuation got underway
‘We are well-placed to be able to make changes tomorrow night. As I said yesterday, I’m not in a position to definitively commit to that, because these next 24 hours will, of course, be crucial,’ he said.
‘However, with a relatively small number of new cases… we are very well placed, but we won’t know and we won’t be able to make a final call on that until some time tomorrow.’
Mr Andrews revealed a delegation of senior government officials will head to the Northern Territory to examine the Howard Springs quarantine facility as Victoria looks to emulate the model.
‘We are actively pursuing and examining the construction of a purpose-built quarantine centre, a centre that would serve to re place in at least significant measure – maybe not entirely but in significant part – the work of inner city hotels,’ he said.
‘It would be a cabin-style, village-style environment, where there would be fresh air, where there would be not zero risk but lower risk.’
He said there were two ‘obvious candidates’ for the facility at the moment, Avalon Airport and Melbourne Airport.
A Covid-infected customer attended Sacca’s Fruit World at Broadmeadows Central in Melbourne’s north between 12.30pm and 1pm on Tuesday February 9
Health authorities have also identified the fresh fruit and meat section to the west side of Broadmeadows Central as a Tier 3 exposure site
Victorian health authorities said there were also two additional cases reported in hotel quarantine from 23,950 tests.
Overnight, Sacca’s Fruit World at Broadmeadows Central in Melbourne’s north was added to Victoria’s list of potential exposure sites after a Covid-infected shopper attended the location between 12.30pm and 1pm on Tuesday February 9.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has identified the venue as a Tier 1 exposure site – meaning all shoppers who were there over the same time frame must quarantine at home.
‘Anyone who visited here during these times must isolate, test and remain isolated for 14 days,’ DHHS said overnight.
Health authorities have also identified the fresh fruit and meat section to the west side of Broadmeadows Central as a Tier 3 exposure site.
Shoppers who visited that section of the centre between 12.15pm and 1.15pm on February 9 should monitor for symptoms.
The state recorded just one locally acquired Covid case on Monday, as Mr Andrews clashed with ABC host Leigh Sales in a heated press conference.
The premier was forced to defend plunging 6.4million Victorian residents into lockdown again after being bombarded with questions from the 7:30 host, who had earlier been refused an interview with the premier.
Some 18 people linked to the Melbourne Airport Holiday Inn have tested positive for Covid-19
NEW RESTRICTIONS FOR VICTORIA FROM 11.59PM ON FRIDAY FEB 12
From Friday February 12 at 11.59pm, new rules apply to Victoria for five days until 11.59pm on Wednesday February 17 due to a worrying new outbreak of the UK mutant strain of Covid-19.
- Stage Four lockdown for the entire state
- Only four essential reasons to leave the house – essential shopping, essential work/education, care-giving or two hours of exercise per day
- All residents must stay within 5km of their home other than essential work or shopper
- Outdoor exercise must be with your household, intimate partner or one other person not from your household
- Mandatory masks everywhere except your home
- No visitors to anyone’s home
- All non-essential shops will be closed
- Public gatherings banned
- Work from home
- Schools closed except for vulnerable children
- Places of worship closed
- Weddings banned
- Funerals capped at 10 people
- Community spaces including swimming pools and libraries closed
Melbourne’s Bourke Street was deserted on Wednesday with residents ordered to stay home under tough stage four lockdown restrictions
Pictured, Degraves Street central Melbourne on Tuesday morning as Victoria endured its fourth day of the current lockdown
Ms Sales grilled Mr Andrews on why the lockdown had been initiated with low case numbers and despite the government saying they had confidence in their hotel quarantine systems and contact tracing.
Mr Andrews said Ms Sales had made ‘a number of assertions’ there were not accurate and argued the decision to go into lockdown was based on the public health advice he had been given – which he could not ignore.
The new locally acquired case on Monday was a woman who attended the family function in Coburg, Melbourne’s north, with a Covid-infected hotel quarantine worker on February 6.
The woman is asymptomatic and was tested four times at the weekend, returning both negative and ‘weak positive’ results.
The woman worked in a psychiatric unit at the Alfred Hospital and on psychiatric wards at the Northern Hospital in Broadmeadows, which is run by Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Victoria’s Covid-19 Testing Commander Jereon Weimar said 150 primary close contacts across the two hospitals have been identified.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) defended plunging the entire state into a snap five-day lockdown, as one new locally acquired case of Covid-19 was recorded on Monday
Melbourne residents line up to be tested for Covid 19 in Melbourne on Monday amid Victoria’s five-day lockdown
The woman is the mother of a three-year-old who tested positive to the virus on Sunday.
Mr Weirmar said the child attended Glenroy Central Kinder and Goodstart Early Learning Centre in Glenroy over three days last week. About 101 primary close contacts have been identified.
The woman and child, as well as another woman aged in her 50s, contracted the virus after attending a family function on Sydney Road in Coburg on February 6.
The function was attended by 38 people including a worker from the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel at Melbourne Airport, who had returned a negative test result on February 7.
The venue was not listed as an exposure site until February 12, two days after the hotel quarantine worker eventually tested positive.