Ban international arrivals, end medi-hotels, SA Opposition says
South Australia's Labor Opposition has called on the SA government to ban international arrivals and immediately halt the state's hotel quarantine – or "medi-hotel" system following an outbreak that plunged the state into a lockdown.
The state feared it would repeat the fatal mistakes of Victoria, where the bungled hotel quarantine program led to a deadly second wave of the coronavirus, after workers at Adelaide's Pepper's Hotel and their close contacts contracted COVID-19 last week.
South Australia was plunged into lockdown last week following a growing cluster that seeded from the state’s hotel quarantine system. Credit:Getty Images
SA Opposition leader Peter Malinauskas has written to Premier Steven Marshall, urging him to advocate for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to begin "immediate Commonwealth-led exploration of alternative solutions for the repatriation of Australian citizens".
In a statement released on social media on Sunday morning, he said although his party had given bipartisan support to many of the state's coronavirus measures, he could no longer "stand by and support the continued acceptance of international arrivals into South Australian medi-hotels"
"Furthermore, until an alternative solution is found, the international student trial via South Australian medi-hotels should also not go ahead," Mr Malinauskas said.
"Given the experience of medi-hotel failure in Melbourne and now Adelaide, we definitively know that placing international arrivals (infected with COVID-19) in CBD accommodation with subcontracted private security simply does not work.
"Today [November 21], South Australia's chief public health officer, Professor Nicola Spurrier, acknowledged that COVID-19 in our medi-hotels is 'a very, very high-risk situation'."
South Australia's recent Parafield cluster, in Adelaide's north, was seeded from a hotel housing quarantining travellers after a security guard spread the virus into the community.
Following the outbreak, acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said quarantine staff in all states and territories would be tested weekly for coronavirus following a recommendation from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, identifying hotel quarantine as "our major risk" of reintroducing coronavirus into areas without local transmission.
The issue of insecure, and highly-casualised, work was brought to the fore again last week when the privately subcontracted security guard for the state's hotel quarantine system was also working part-time at a pizza bar.
Victoria's deadly second wave of the pandemic began with private security seeding the virus, and it spreading rapidly through the community mainly via vulnerable communities and high-risk industries.
Premier Daniel Andrews had introduced a one-off $1500 payment for those forced into isolation, and a $450 supplement for those taking a test, after evidence emerged casual workers were not isolating because they could not afford to.
Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus last week said a solution for casual and contracted workers working in high-risk environments as well as other jobs would "save lives in the process".
"We’ve seen around the country through this crisis that insecure work is a risk to public health," she said.
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