Covid-stricken state to resume international flights TODAY after numerous hotel quarantine debacles saw virus spread and infect hundreds
- More than 100 returning travelers will arrive in Melbourne on Thursday
- It’s an early test of Victoria’s third iteration of the hotel quarantine program
- During the three-month lockdown last year, flights were halted
- This happened again in February when workers were given the British Covid kind
Victoria’s much-maligned hotel quarantine program has resumed, with international flights landing in the state for the first time in nearly two months.
Approximately 106 returning travelers will arrive at Melbourne Airport on Thursday from 4:30 am on board flights from Colombo, Doha, Dubai and Singapore.
They will be taken to the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport and the Intercontinental on Collins Street, where they will stay for a fortnight.
The state has not accepted return travelers since February 13, when workers picked up the British variant of COVID-19 from guests at the Holiday Inn.
The outbreak, which grew to 24 cases, led to a statewide five-day lockdown.
COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria Commissioner Emma Cassar said Victorians should have confidence in the plan’s third iteration (photo, Melbourne travelers)
The program was reviewed in December following an inquest, and after the second leak, further reviews were conducted by Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng and SaferCare Victoria.
COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria Commissioner Emma Cassar said Victorians should have confidence in the plan’s third iteration.
“We have done everything we can to make this as secure as possible and we will continue to make sure that the program stays ahead of this virus,” she said on Wednesday.
Under the changes, returning travelers will be tested four times, unable to leave their room for fresh air without a medical reason, their meals will be staggered, and large family groups will be spaced to reduce aerosol transmission.
The number of arrivals is capped at 800 in the first week, although it is expected to increase to 1,000 in the second week (pictured, arrivals from Melbourne)
The hotel’s quarantine personnel have now all received at least one dose of Pfizer, while the majority have also undergone N95 mask testing.
The number of arrivals will be limited to 800 in the first week, although it is expected to increase to 1000 in the second week.
The Novotel Ibis Melbourne Central, Pan Pacific, Holiday Inn on Flinders and Element Melbourne Richmond are also ready for use after ventilation works.
Six more hotels are expected to participate in the program, including the Four Points by Sheraton.
Victoria did not register new local virus cases on Wednesday for the 40th day in a row, after 11,746 tests.