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Australia’s Victoria is currently experiencing the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak. As per reports, as many as 36 suburbs across 10 zip codes were put under lockdown after a sudden spike in coronavirus cases.
As reported by Australian media, authorities in Victoria now suspect that security guards employed to monitor quarantined foreign travellers in several hotels across Victoria were having sex with them, in blatant violation of isolation and quarantine protocols.
Victoria recorded 73 new cases on Wednesday. Most alarmingly, at least 20 of the new positive cases have no known source of transmission, leading to concerns over community transmissions. The state of Victoria has reportedly been recording over 50 new cases since the past week.
Unacceptable breaches: State government launches inquiry
As per reports, the state government in Victoria has announced a judicial inquiry into its hotel quarantine program, after the allegations of security staff fraternising with quarantined guests emerged after the recent spike in coronavirus cases.
A report in Vice stated that many of the recent cases were traced back to private contractors working in two two quarantine hotels in Melbourne, the Stamford Plaza Hotel and the Rydges on Swanston Hotel.
Daniel Andrews, the Victorian premier, announced on Thursday that the state government will allocate 3 million Australian dollars to support the inquiry, and all international returned travellers will be diverted from Melbourne for two weeks while the entire hotel quarantine system is examined and set in order.
The state ha snow recorded at least 301 cases of community transmission. The state authorities and police have acknowledged the instances of ‘breach’ involving contact between security guards and quarantined guests.
There are also allegations of security firms engaging in ‘ghosting’, where private contractors allegedly inflated the number of guards listed on duty to charge the government more for their services. As per reports, the state authorities had opted to hire private contractors to guard the hotels, ignoring opposition and concerns.
15 hotels in Melbourne had volunteered to be a part of the quarantine programme that was launched in March. Foreign travellers who had tested positive were moved in ambulances to the hotels, listed as ‘red’ hotels. While medical staff were also stationed at the hotels, none of the medical staff, have so far found to be coronavirus positive. Most new cases are from private security guards employed at the hotels.
Victoria premier Andrews has also suspended international flights to Melbourne following the cases of community transmission, to extend and aide contact tracing work. Jenifer Coate, a retired judge will now lead an inquiry into the ‘breach’ that led to security staff contracting infections from guests.