Victoria government apologizes for Australia’s botched hotel quarantine plan

Sydney, Australia, Dec 21 (efe-epa).- The government of Victoria in Australia apologized on Monday for the “very clear errors” committed in the first hotel quarantine of Melbourne city that led to the second wave of Covid-19 in the country.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said he intended to accept all the recommendations of an independent probe commission, which investigated the botched hotel quarantine plan.

The inquiry report, tabled in the regional parliament on Monday, notes that Melbourne’s hotel quarantine program indicated “a failure of governance” since poorly trained private security guards were used by the authorities rather than police or army to guard the complex.

The inquiry commission, led by former judge Jennifer Coate, was unable to determine who commissioned the use of private security, whose guards had allegedly violated social distancing measures.

“This decision was a substantial part of an important public health initiative and it cost the Victorian community many millions of dollars. But it remained, as multiple submissions to the inquiry noted, an orphan, with no person or department claiming responsibility.”

The commission in its 500-page final report slammed the Andrews government for the decision, which “was made without proper analysis or even a clear articulation that it was being made at all.”

Andrews lost no time in apologizing for the failings.

“I want to apologise to the Victorian community for the very clear errors that were made in this program. I think that the way in which the program was established, it had to be done quickly. That’s the nature of a global pandemic. There is no rule book as such,” Andrews told reporters.

He noted that his commitment was to not only to apologize “but to also offer my commitment to make sure that we do everything we possibly can to learn these lessons.”

“If I could turn back the clock and receive daily reports on what happens in hotel quarantine as I do now, then, of course, I would.”

The March 29-June 30 hotel quarantine plan received 21,821 travelers who returned from abroad. More than 230 of them were infected by the virus.

The commission revealed that despite the low number of cases, violations of the program’s containment measures led to the second wave of Covid-19 in Victoria. Nearly 99 percent of subsequent infections were linked to travelers who stayed at two Melbourne hotels.

At the beginning of July, the Victorian government ordered the strict confinement of its 5 million inhabitants.

At that time, Victoria added 2,800 Covid-19 infections of the 8,500 that Australia had registered by then. Some 22 of the total 106 deaths were from Victoria then.

The virus spread throughout the city, and currently, Victoria, which ended the confinement in November, has not detected local transmission for more than 50 days.

Of the total 28,171 coronavirus cases in Australia, some 20,360 infections are from Victoria. Some 820 fatalities out of a total of 908 in the Oceanic nation are from the state. EFE-EPA


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