Acting Premier James Merlino was cautiously optimistic about Melbourne’s reprieve – at least partial – from the current lockdown which ends at 11.59pm Thursday following the announcement of two new locally transmitted cases of COVID-19 – a child from West Melbourne and a household member of the worker linked to the Arcare Maidstone facility.
“This cluster was discovered after the lockdown was in place and nothing about today changes our plan,” he said.
“Thanks to the outstanding work of our contact tracing team, we remain on track to deliver a further easing of restrictions in regional Victoria and easing of restrictions in Melbourne.”
Mr Merlino was sceptical of hotel quarantine as a way of keeping the virus in check.
“Hotels are built for tourists, not for managing infectious diseases,” he said.
“There have been at least 21 breaches in hotel quarantine right around this country. Just in the last month, we have seen three outbreaks, one in South Australia and two in WA.”
Minister Merlino added that the government “cannot eliminate risk in this environment” despite protections currently in place such as vaccination of staff, daily testing of staff, PPE, N95 masks, ventilation works, etc.
“The fact that Howard Springs is the only system in the country that has seen no breaches really speaks for itself,” he said.
“That’s why we pushed so hard to get a purpose-built quarantine facility. Howard Springs is the only facility in this country that has not seen a breach and that’s exactly why we have been pushing for this purpose-built facility.
“The best case scenario was that this was done a year ago. The next best scenario is that we get it done immediately. I am very pleased, as we have heard over the last few days, that that’s received the support of the Federal Government.”