News State Victoria News Hotel guards wore PPE incorrectly, nurse tells inquiry

Hotel guards wore PPE incorrectly, nurse tells inquiry

victoria hotel quarantine
Hotel quarantine was supposed to keep Victoria safe, not spawn hundreds of deaths and community infections. Photo: AAP
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A nurse working in Victoria’s hotel quarantine program says security guards incorrectly wore personal protective equipment during their shifts.

“Jen” joined the program in mid-April after losing casual work at a public hospital in Melbourne, working mainly at the Park Royal Melbourne Airport.

She told the state’s hotel quarantine inquiry on Thursday it was “very obvious” training in personal protective equipment wasn’t widely available to all staff.

“I saw a lot of mostly security guards, for example, constantly wearing the same gloves throughout their shifts, making themselves a coffee with gloves on, using their phone and things like that,” Jen said.

“Always wearing the same gloves, wearing their masks and their nose was hanging out or that [the mask] was underneath their chin. That was constantly seen.”

Jen said the Park Royal hotel had up to 300 guests at any given time and three or four general nurses and a mental health nurse.

Three levels of the hotel were used for quarantining returned overseas travellers, while one remained open to the public.

The nurse said there was no isolated entry to the hotel for the public.

“They would use the same lifts that the quarantine guests would come through,” Jen said.

She said duties for the nurses included calling quarantined guests to see if they had coronavirus symptoms and to check on their welfare.

‘You didn’t really have to do much. Sometimes you had to get a can of Coca-Cola from the vending machine for the guests.”

Public hearings on Thursday and Friday are examining the experience of being in hotel quarantine and working in the problem-plagued program.

“They are the human stories – evidence of the experiences of people who themselves have lived through the hotel quarantine program,” counsel assisting Ben Ihle said.

“Each of these witnesses had direct experience of what happened: in the lobbies, in the corridors and in the rooms of the hotels.”

It earlier was revealed 99 per cent of the state’s current COVID-19 cases are attributable to outbreaks at the Rydges on Swanston and Stamford Plaza hotels.

At the time of the outbreaks, there were very few other cases of COVID-19 in Victoria.

In late May, 19 Victorians had died from the virus.

By Thursday, state’s death toll had risen to 376, with more than 7000 cases active.