July 5, 2022

Victoria hotel quarantine worker has UK coronavirus variant, Premier Daniel Andrews confirms

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Victoria hotel quarantine worker has UK coronavirus variant, Premier Daniel Andrews confirms

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says a person with COVID-19 is being treated in intensive care for the first time in months, as genomic testing confirms the latest hotel quarantine worker to test positive to the virus has the more contagious UK variant.

Health authorities have boosted testing capacity at several sites around Melbourne after the hotel quarantine worker tested positive for the virus on Sunday.

The woman, who worked at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport, was the second worker in the program to test positive in under a week.

The first, a man who worked in the Australian Open’s hotel quarantine program, tested positive last Wednesday.

Victoria recorded zero new coronavirus cases overnight, out of 12,816 test results received yesterday, the health department said.

No other locally acquired coronavirus cases have been reported in the past week.

Three workers wearing PPE talking to drivers in a queue of cars outside a large white tent.
The Premier said close to 100 per cent of test results were being returned within 24 hours.(ABC News: Zalika Rizmal)

Mr Andrews said genomic test results this morning confirmed that the woman who worked at the Holiday Inn had the more infectious UK variant of the virus.

“There’s a working theory and very serious concerns about aerosol transmission, particularly of these hyper-infectious strains,” he said.

There are eight primary close contacts and 136 work close contacts in isolation, he said.

Mr Andrews said all of the primary close contacts had been tested and no positive results had been reported yet, but authorities were still working through the testing of work contacts.

All international arrivals must spend 14 days in a quarantine hotel.
A woman who worked at the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel tested positive on Sunday.(ABC News: Billy Draper)

The Premier said he could not rule out further changes to the hotel quarantine program, but said Victoria’s system was one of the best in the country.

“There’s no federal facilities that are going to pop up any time soon so we have to make the best of what we have,” he said.

He also said the number of international travellers Victoria accepted would not increase to the same amount as New South Wales.

“I can foreshadow for you that we’re not going to go anywhere near the capacity New South Wales or other states have, and I don’t make any apology for that,” he said.

“We will have less capacity because we have a different model and, I believe, higher standards.”

COVID-19 testing has been ramped up in the city’s north-western suburbs and elsewhere, with the busiest site at Chadstone.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton took to Twitter to announce he had received a negative COVID-19 test result after developing a runny nose, sore throat and headache on Monday.


First COVID-19 case in ICU since October

One active case, a returned traveller in hotel quarantine, has been transferred to hospital and is in intensive care, Mr Andrews said.

The person is the first confirmed case to receive intensive care since October, based on the daily coronavirus updates from health authorities.

The last Sydney council area to be considered an “orange zone” was downgraded to a green zone last night under Victoria’s travel permit system.

The change means travellers who have been in the Cumberland local government area will be allowed to get a green zone permit, and travel into Victoria without being required to get tested or self-isolate on arrival.