The most recent Covid lockdown of Victorians resulting from hotel quarantine failures must lead many to believe that the incumbent Victorian government is a danger to the health and safety of Victorians, and Australians.
The first lockdown, lasting 112 days in 2020 and costing 801 lives resulted directly from disastrously incompetent mismanagement of hotel quarantine by the government. The Victorian government has admitted this.
But the evidence from this latest lockdown is that the government's failures continue. The spread of Covid out of the Holiday Inn Airport Hotel is a direct result of the repetition of the same mismanagement evidenced in the first lockdown. This has occurred even though the government has radically reorganised the bureaucratic structures for hotel quarantine management.
It is this bureaucratic mismanagement that is the problem. It is a failure of governance, common-sense management and transparency. It is of such a scale as to put the health, safety, lives and livelihoods of Victorians and Australians at major risk.
The evidence of the latest outbreak is as follows.
Following the 801 deaths resulting directly from the first hotel quarantine failures, the then Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has been disbanded. It was replaced in late 2020 with three new bureaucracies responsible for quarantine. They effectively took over on 1 February.
Most functions of the hotel quarantine program are contracted out to various businesses providing food, cleaning, supplies and staff under labour hire.
The government maintains control over every aspect of the operations. This includes daily control of the numbers, type and qualifications of staff, PPE use, movement of persons through the hotels and so on. The government exercises all decision-making over testing, tracing, isolation and so on. All control and decisions on site are subject to direct instructions from the three bureaucracies.
The staff operating the quarantine in the hotels-the ones in direct contact with travellers-effectively have little decision-making authority. The decision-making lines are remote from the hotels and disjointed. The Holiday Inn was controlled directly through the processes described above.
Sequence of events
The uncontrolled outbreak at the hotel followed the following publicly identified timeline in February.
- Wednesday 3rd: A family of three arrived from overseas. Someone in the family had Covid.
- Sunday 7th: An 'authorised officer' at the hotel tested positive. Other workers subsequently tested positive. Household members of the staff were not contacted or told to isolate.
- Tuesday 9th: Household contacts were finally contacted. But one of the household members had already worked at airport terminal, possibly exposing 3,500 travellers. Another staff member tested positive.
- Thursday 11th: Another household member tested positive. The government reported 13 positive cases, including some external to the hotel.
- Friday 12th: Lockdown announced.
On these basic facts, the failure to contact people for up to three days who were known to be in close contact with the positive case on Sunday is the primary cause of the current outbreak. That is, management failure by the three controlling bureaucracies is the cause.
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