News Coronavirus Three Perth quarantine hotels ‘high-risk’ as outbreak spreads to Melbourne

Three Perth quarantine hotels ‘high-risk’ as outbreak spreads to Melbourne

Three of Perth's COVID-19 quarantine hotels are deemed "high-risk" for ventilation problems Photo: AAP
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A Victorian man has tested positive to COVID-19 after contracting the virus in a quarantine hotel in Perth at the centre of an outbreak.

Two other hotels in Perth have been identified as having the same “high-risk” status for ventilation issues.

A third case has been linked to the Mercure Hotel after the Victorian man tested positive on Friday morning.

The man, who is asymptomatic, arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday after completing 14 days of quarantine at the hotel.

He was tested after returning to his home with his wife and two children in the city’s eastern suburbs.

His positive result ended Victoria’s eight-week run of zero local transmission.

Genomic testing has confirmed the virus spread in the corridors of the hotel from a couple who had returned from India.

The man was staying in the room adjacent to the couple.

A pregnant mother and her four-year-old daughter who were staying across the corridor have also tested positive and remain in quarantine at the hotel.

Health Minister Martin Foley confirmed the man, from Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, returned a positive test on Friday morning.

“He did all of the right things, got his gear, went straight home, sat in the back seat, put his mask on all the way home and stayed separate from the rest of the members of his family,” Mr Foley said.

The Victorian public health team is working to contact everyone on Qantas flight QF778, who will be required to get tested and isolate for 14 days.

“We will be examining the gentleman’s movements, particularly through the airport, where he did wear a mask, as he did on the flight,” Mr Foley said.

He said he was not aware of how many people were aboard the flight.

Meanwhile, West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has announced Perth’s Mercure Hotel will not take any new returned overseas travellers.

It will instead transition to a “low-risk” quarantine hotel for a flight-load of seasonal workers expected to arrive from Tonga and Vanuatu next month.

Documents released by the government have revealed the extent to which it was aware of risk factors at its quarantine hotels.

Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson received a report on April 8 which identified three hotels – the Mercure, the Sheraton Four Points and Novotel Langley – as being “high risk” for ventilation issues.

Dr Robertson wrote to the premier last Friday advising that the Mercure was the highest-risk of the three hotels and it should no longer accommodate returned travellers.

The mother, who is six months’ pregnant, and her daughter at the Mercure returned positive tests that day.

In his letter to the Premier, Dr Robertson said the risks could be mitigated by changes such as installing HEPA air filters in rooms with positive cases.

“Assessment of the three higher risk hotels indicates that the Mercure Hotel is probably the most difficult to mitigate, given positive pressure rooms, opening windows and the age of the facility,” he wrote.

“The other two higher risk hotels (Four Points Sheraton, Novotel Langley) are easier to mitigate utilising measures already implemented and the recommended measures.”

The ventilation report was commissioned after a security guard at the Sheraton contracted COVID-19 in January, prompting a five-day lockdown.

Australian Medical Association WA president Andrew Miller said it was unacceptable that previously healthy travellers had contracted the virus within hotel quarantine, something which has also happened in other states.

Mr McGowan said WA’s nine quarantine hotels were accommodating more than 2000 international arrivals on any given day.

He said the federal government’s refusal to consider his proposal to shift returned travellers into Commonwealth facilities such as military bases or detention centres had left states running “imperfect” quarantine hotels.

Guests who also stayed on the sixth floor at the Mercure have been re-tested and directed to self-isolate until cleared.

The floor has been cleared of guests.

The news comes as the Northern Territory recorded another 13 cases of coronavirus in quarantine among people who recently arrived on two repatriation flights from India.

The new cases — five from an April 15 flight from Chennai and eight from a flight from New Delhi two days later — bring the NT’s total number of recent diagnoses from India to 35.

-with agencies