Australia has fewer than 8500 total confirmed cases of COVID-19. For a country similar in population to Texas, that’s striking because it’s about the same number of cases my home state has been reporting each day. Australia’s success appears to be a combination of effective policy response and luck.
The country went into lock down, and this didn’t just include international travel. Many Australian states still have travel restrictions in place. International arrivals of their own citizens required quarantine. But it’s those quarantine facilities that are the site of a new modest virus outbreak in Melbourne – and also of a sex scandal.
Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews identified growth in cases a month ago as coming from “an infection control breach in the hotel quarantine program.” We now know what that ‘breach’ was. Contract security employees having sex with people being quarantined.
The entire point of the quarantine was that the arriving passengers might have the virus, and that’s true even if they weren’t testing positive for it. It defeats the purpose of the quarantine if the people charged with enforcing it are doing the opposite of social distancing.
The government had taken over several hotels for returning Australian citizens to spend their required 14-day quarantines.
- 31 cases are linked to the Stamford Plaza
- Other cases are linked to Rydges on Swanston
[T]he alleged breaches include claims some workers had sex with guests in isolation, and a lack of training for the guards.
…Australia’s Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said: “There are two cases where it appears that there have been clear breaches with significant ramifications.”
When asked what he made of allegations that security officers were sleeping with guests in quarantine, Hunt said: “If those statements are true, that would be completely and utterly unacceptable.”
Melbourne is not allowing international arrivals of citizens or others “for the next two weeks” so that they can review the quarantine program which is being turned over to the agency which runs the state’s jails.
While some critics blame the lapse on the government giving guards just 5 minutes of training I’m not sure whether the next 5 minutes would have included “don’t have sex with travelers under quarantine” (or that it would’ve mattered if it did).