Otago Daily Times

Melbourne hotel outbreak grows


MELBOURNE: Returned travellers were yesterday evacuated from the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport, as a Covid19 outbreak at the hotel grew.

Another worker and former guest of Melbourne’s Holiday Inn quarantine hotel have tested positive for Covid19, bringing the total number of cases linked to the outbreak to eight.

The Victorian Health Department yesterday confirmed two new infections had been linked to the hotel.

They included a worker and past resident who left the hotel on Sunday, the same day as an already known case departed.

The two new infections mean the outbreak now encompasse­s three workers, two released guests and a family of three no longer staying at the hotel.

Authoritie­s believe a medical device in the room of the family could be to blame for the cluster.

The outbreak has forced the hotel’s closure, while plans to increase the state’s weekly cap on internatio­nal arrivals from 1120 to 1310 from next week have been put on hold.

Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton said authoritie­s believed the cases were linked to the use of a nebuliser, a device that vaporises medication or liquid into a fine mist.

‘‘If that’s breathed in and someone is infectious or later tests positive, then that picks up the virus and then that mist can be suspended in the air with very fine aerosolise­d particles.’’

The nebuliser was used by a Holiday Inn guest taken to intensive care on Tuesday.

The guest and their two family members contracted the virus overseas.

Sutton said it was possible everyone on that floor of the hotel had been exposed to the virus.

‘‘The risk with an aerosolise­d virus is very substantia­l and so I think we should expect more cases,’’ he said.

About 135 staff at the hotel were stood down on Tuesday night and told to get tested and isolate at home for 14 days, bringing the total number of staff isolating to 220.

Fortyeight guests of the hotel considered primary close contacts will be transferre­d to the Pullman Melbourne.

Any guests who were due to leave quarantine in the next three days will be required to stay at least another three days.

South Australia was last night poised to lock out travellers from Melbourne, effective midnight (local time); returning South Australian residents, people relocating and other exempt travellers would still be allowed in but would have to quarantine for 14 days. — AAP

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