The Victorian government has pledged every frontline hotel quarantine worker will be vaccinated by the time international flights to Melbourne restart this week.
Several workers at Melbourne Airport’s Holiday Inn contracted the highly infectious UK variant of COVID-19 from returned travellers in early February.
The 24-case outbreak triggered the state’s five-day, circuit-breaker lockdown and led to the suspension of international flights.
With flights carrying returned travellers to resume on Thursday, Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan said Victoria was close to vaccinating all hotel quarantine workers.
“The advice I have is that all staff working in hotel quarantine in those front-facing roles will be vaccinated once the program resumes on 8 April,” she told reporters on Monday.
“The vast majority of hotel quarantine workers have already been vaccinated, and only those who have been vaccinated will be working in hotel quarantine from 8 April in those front-facing roles.”
It follows a review of variants of concern, led by Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng, concluding that vaccinating hotel quarantine staff would be the most effective measure in preventing the spread of the virus.
Thursday’s restart will mark the third time Victoria’s hotel quarantine scheme has been overhauled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state’s second wave, which last year resulted in more than 18,000 new infections, 800 deaths and a 112-day lockdown, also leaked from hotel quarantine.
For the third iteration of the program, returned traveller arrivals were initially planned to be capped at 800 a week before scaling up to 1,120 by 15 April.
However, acting premier James Merlino last week revised the second figure down to 1,000 after the federal government rejected Victoria’s proposal to provide 120 additional places for “economic cohorts”.
Victoria has now administered 116,677 vaccine doses, adding just 443 to its tally on Sunday as hubs remain open over the four-day Easter long weekend.
There were no new COVID-19 infections reported in Victoria on Monday, the state’s 38th consecutive day without a locally acquired case.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits.
If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus