The Victorian Opposition has blasted the government after another apparent hotel quarantine breach that is believed to have led to the highly infectious Delta variant escaping into the community.
It emerged last week that the variant had been found within the community, amid a snap lockdown and restrictions in the state.
Authorities confirmed on Tuesday a genomic link had been identified between a returned traveller who stayed in Melbourne hotel quarantine and the family infected with the variant, but the exact cause of the transmission remains unknown.
In a heated Question Time on Tuesday, the government maintained there were no “obvious breaches” within hotel quarantine.
Victorian Opposition leader Michael O’Brien asked why the variant had escaped into the community.
“How did this happen, how did the government let Covid, the Delta variant, get into our community,” Mr O’Brien asked.
“How can the government assure Victorians that the lessons from last year have been learned?”
Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino (AAP)
Acting Premier James Merlino said there were no known breaches but there was always a risk of the virus entering into the community through hotel quarantine.
The traveller, a man aged in his 40s, arrived from Sri Lanka on May 8 and tested positive that same day, before being transferred from the Novotel Ibis quarantine hotel to the Holiday Inn health hotel in Melbourne on May 14, authorities confirmed on Tuesday.
He completed his quarantine and was released on May 23, and authorities said he was highly likely not infectious at the time.
It’s currently unknown how the variant was transferred to the Melbourne family.
When asked what the government had done to strengthen its quarantine system following the revelation, acting police and emergency services Minister Danny Pearson said the government was constantly making improvements.
“The virus is constantly trying to attack our systems and breach our defences,” he said.
“So we ensure all staff are vaccinated, we had an air purifier on that floor to ensure we can clear out the air, we tested the ventilation, we made sure all staff were wearing N95 masks and face shields and there were no significant infection prevention and control breaches during the course of that person’s stay.
“We’re constantly trying to learn from this virus, and make improvements and we’ve got a very strong system compared to other jurisdictions.”