Australia

Returned travellers evacuated from Melbourne’s Holiday Inn as coronavirus outbreak grows


Returned travellers are being evacuated from the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport, as a COVID-19 outbreak at the hotel grows to three cases.

The two latest cases confirmed on Tuesday are a returned traveller, who tested positive after finishing her 14-days in quarantine, and a food and beverage worker.

An authorised officer at the hotel also tested positive to the highly-infectious UK strain on Sunday.

COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria confirmed the hotel was closing on Wednesday.

“As a highly precautionary measure, the Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport is being closed until further notice for terminal cleaning, and with detailed contact tracing and investigations underway,” a spokeswoman said.

About 135 staff at the hotel were stood down on Tuesday night and were told to get tested and then isolate at home for 14 days, bringing the total number of staff isolating to 220.

More than 950 hotel quarantine staff across the state are isolating after recent cases of transmission at the Holiday Inn, Grand Hyatt and Park Royal quarantine hotels.

Forty-eight guest of the hotel considered primary close contacts will be transferred to the Pullman Melbourne to quarantine for an “extended number of days”.

“We understand this will be difficult news to receive and will do everything we can to ensure the health and wellbeing of these residents are supported during their new quarantine period,” the spokeswoman said.

“The transfer of the residents will be sequenced and coordinated, and there will be careful management of infection prevention and control measures.”

The returned traveller had tested negative several times during her stay, which ended on Sunday. She got tested again on Monday after learning of the outbreak.

The woman did not leave home other than to get tested and only one primary close contact has been identified so far.

The food and beverage worker worked on the same floor as the returned traveller and was identified as a close contact of the positive authorised officer.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the three Holiday Inn cases were likely linked to a floor with known COVID-positive guests.

That includes a family of three, one of whom has been transferred to intensive care.

Professor Sutton indicated the infected workers and former guest appeared to have picked up the virus from the family, despite having no close contact.

“Cases can happen anywhere, at any time, and they can happen without a breach of protocol or any particular errors being made,” he said on Tuesday.

“We are talking about an incredibly infectious virus. We have known that airborne transmission is possible.”

Authorities have updated a list of possible exposure sites in Sunbury, in Melbourne’s northwest.

Anyone who visited these venues at the specified times must get tested and isolate for 14 days.

There have been five cases of COVID-19 across three Victorian quarantine hotels within a week, with three confirmed to be the more infectious UK strain.

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.

Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT, Tasmania.



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