Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Victoria to consider new purpose-built quarantine hub

The Victorian Government is examining alternative models of mandatory quarantine, including a purpose-built accommodation hub outside of the CBD, to address the changing threat of new hyper-infectious, fast moving strains of coronavirus.

Premier Daniel Andrews said experts across all jurisdictions were considering how to best guard against new strains of the deadly virus.

“New, changing strains of the virus mean we need new thinking when it comes to mandatory quarantine and how we bring people home safely,” said Premier Daniel Andrews.

“Right across the country, governments are examining how to adapt to the changing threat we face – we need to listen to the experts and make the changes necessary to guard against this new challenge.”

He said a Victorian team of senior officials was “well advanced” on planning work that will include investigating parcels of land near Melbourne and Avalon airports that could be used to construct bespoke, stand-alone accommodation hubs.

Based on early advice from public health experts and COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria, he said the following specifications would be important in the design of any such hub:

  • Flat structures (not multi-storey) that are adequately spaced are preferable;
  • Designs that allow for strict IPC protocols that are already in place in the existing program;
  • Individual rooms that cater to a variety of family sizes with self-contained bathroom facilities;
  • High quality or separate ventilation systems per room, including the use of windows;
  • Surfaces that are easily cleaned, to enable the highest standard of IPC protocols; and
  • Separate and adequately sized staff facilities.

Acting Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Martin Foley said any hub of this kind could also be used for future emergency accommodation needs, including ongoing quarantine arrangements or bushfire emergency accommodation.

“At every step, we’re acting on expert advice and making the changes necessary to strengthen our quarantine program in light of these new highly-infectious changing strains of the virus,” he said.

As part of the planning work, the Government will also send a delegation to Howard Springs in the Northern Territory to examine the quarantine facility there. The model at Howard Springs involves single-storey accommodation that may be better suited to managing the new more infectious strains of the virus.

The work will also consider whether any new accommodation should be used in conjunction with hotel quarantine locations in the CBD, or as a stand-alone facility for the whole program.

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