Tennis officials are confident the Australian Open is still coronavirus-free despite Michail Pervolarakis revealing he has tested positive for COVID-19 after travelling from Australia to South Africa.
Pervolarakis played two ATP Cup matches for Team Greece alongside world No.6 Stefanos Tsitsipas at Melbourne Park last week and is understood to have tested negative before leaving Victoria on Tuesday.
The 24-year-old, ranked 463 in the world, did not play in the Australian Open.
Tennis Australia is aware of Pervolarakis’ positive test but officials are confident the Open’s health security bubble has not been breached.
At this stage, the Open will proceed as planned, with crowds banned from attending during Victoria’s hard lockdown period.
Pervolarakis confirmed his positive test in a series of social media posts on Saturday.
“After a 24-plus hour travel day from Australia to South Africa I’ve been diagnosed positive to COVID-19,” Pervolarakis posted.
“I am completely asymptomatic at the moment and will have to quarantine in an isolation facility in Potchefstroom.
“I am not a person that complains, but I feel that I need to express my disappointment with the conditions we are in.”
Pervolarakis announces he has tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival to South Africa from Australia pic.twitter.com/ze7pvRV5P4
— Reem Abulleil (@ReemAbulleil) February 13, 2021
He later added: “Just to clarify few things … got tested negative in Melbourne before leaving and the nurse said that I most likely got it on the plane or on my stop in Doha.”
Investigate Victoria’s hotel quarantine
Doctors say it is “curious” and “interesting” that the state’s hotel quarantine system has failed again and have called for an investigation.
Australian Medical Association (AMA) president Dr Omar Khorshid said the latest outbreak and the more than 900 close contacts involved was concerning.
Dr Khorshid told the ABC the Victorian government had “dropped the ball” despite claiming the state’s quarantine was the best in the country and had not learnt from the past.
He said questions needed to be asked as to how the outbreak happened and what differences there were between Victoria’s hotel quarantine system and other states.
It comes as the Victorian government is gearing up to lead a re-think of Australia’s hotel quarantine program in light of the UK strain.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Saturday said he had asked his health experts to do a risk assessment of the “fast-moving” disease, which would form his position in a national discussion about hotel quarantine now and when the vaccine is rolled out.
Mr Andrews earlier said there needed to be a “cold, hard discussion” about reducing the number of travellers returning to Australia from overseas.
Chief medical officer Paul Kelly on Saturday said he and his state-based counterparts were constantly looking at quarantine protocols and safeguards.
He said the federal government could not ignore Australians stuck overseas for months on end, many of whom were already unable to secure flights home.
“The states and territories themselves at a national cabinet meeting very early on said it should be the states and territories – that is where the public health system is run; (they) have the various staff that are needed for this type of exercise,” Prof Kelly told reporters.
“(As to) whether we should be taking fewer people home … the Australian government does have a responsibility to Australians overseas and for those who are vulnerable and really desperate to come home, we need to factor that in.”
Victoria has paused all international passenger flights from Saturday, excluding those already in transit, until at least Thursday. The Victorian weekly cap of arrivals had been set to lift from 1210 to 1310 overseas arrivals.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week defended Australia’s state-led hotel quarantine program, arguing COVID-19 leaks – as have recently occurred in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide – were inevitable.
Prof Kelly said quarantine systems were complex but mostly effective.
“We have had a very small number of breaches but of course we can always learn from what happens,” he said. “That continuous quality improvement approach is what we are taking.”
The Victorian Greens have suggested portable, spaced out cabins for quarantine, like those in holiday parks, as an alternative to hotels, solving the ventilation problem that appears to have led to the Melbourne outbreak.
It can be traced back to a family of three who quarantined at the Holiday Inn, one of whom used a nebuliser device for his asthma, which is believed to have caused airborne virus transmission in the hotel.
Victoria’s quarantine authority has denied any medical staff knew about the nebuliser before it was used, despite the passenger himself telling media he declared the item.
The state currently has 14 cases linked to the Holiday Inn outbreak.