Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has said it would be “fantastic” if Victoria had a stand-alone hotel quarantine facility like Howard Springs, as Avalon Airport is mooted as a regional site for a new hotel quarantine facility.
The disused worker’s camp 25 kilometres outside the Darwin CBD is being used as a quarantine facility to house people brought back to Australia on government repatriation flights.
The federal government said it would soon be able to handle 850 people a fortnight, with returned travellers housed in portable cabins with plenty of access to fresh air.
In contrast, Victoria’s hotel quarantine system has come under fire again after cases leaked out of the Holiday Inn hotel at Melbourne Airport.
There are 17 active cases of the virulent UK strain of coronavirus linked to the outbreak, which led to the imposition of a five-day lockdown.
The system is also under fire for failing to implement advice from a task force on PPE and infection control.
On day four of the restrictions all eyes will be on the latest case numbers for an indication of whether or not the lockdown will be extended.
Speaking on ABC Radio Melbourne, Mr Sutton said “we all wish” Victoria had a similar facility to Howard Springs with an open-air space between rooms, “which is great for welfare issues”.
“If we had that – wouldn’t that be fantastic. But we’ve got the infrastructure we’ve got,” Professor Sutton told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“But there’s no question an open-air setting with a real distance between rooms is kind of infrastructurally what we’d all love to see.”
Talks underway about possible facility at Avalon Airport
The idea of using defence bases and new facilities in regional Victoria have also been canvassed.
Avalon Airport chief executive Justin Giddings has been in talks with the state government about the construction of a purpose-built quarantine facility at the airport.
Mr Giddings said the government had not approached him about the idea, but he had been having discussions with politicians and Geelong City Council about how the facility could work.
“I think this is a really good idea. No-one has said no, everyone has been really receptive. Everyone I’ve spoken to has been very positive,” Mr Giddings told the ABC.
“We are 10 kilometres from any residential towns. This area would be located well away from other passengers and is a secure environment.”
Mr Giddings said the facility would ideally be made up of up to 400 caravans or cabins that would sit on 1700 hectares of vacant land owned by the airport.
“I think it would be a good system and one that might complement the hotel quarantine system,” Mr Giddings said.
Mr Giddings said he was “happy to have a chat” about either leasing the land to the state government or building the facility itself.