The Holiday Inn quarantine hotel in Melbourne Airport has been shut down, after two new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed from the building, leading the infected total to three. The building will reportedly be undergoing “terminal cleaning” during its closure.
One of the cases was a returned traveller who had completed her 14 days of hotel isolation and then tested positive two days later, and the other two were hotel workers. The Victorian government has evacuated individuals from the building, and will shut down the hotel for investigation and cleaning.
More than 130 workers at the Holiday Inn have been stood down from their jobs, and will be undergoing 14 days of isolation. Residents of the hotel will be moved to an unspecified Pullman Melbourne hotel.
“CQV is implementing strict infection prevention and control measures after a hotel quarantine worker, who last worked at the Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport on February 4, tested positive for the virus,” a spokesperson for COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria (CQV) told News.com.
“All staff and residents at the hotel during the exposure period of January 27 and February 9 are considered primary close contacts and need to quarantine.
“(About) 135 staff across all programs at the hotel were stood down last night and instructed to quarantine for 14 days at home and get retested.”
BREAKING: People are being evacuated from the Holiday Inn. I’m told it has been shut down. 3 cases linked to the airport hotel. More soon @TheTodayShow @9NewsMelb pic.twitter.com/l96a4OfOVd
— Izabella Staskowski (@IzaStaskowski) February 9, 2021
In a conference on Wednesday, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton offered his theory as to how the virus spread around the hotel, suggesting that it may have been through a medical vaporiser device in the hallways.
“[The hypothesis is] these three cases are related to an exposure event that involved a medical device called a nebuliser and it vaporises medication or liquid into a fine mist,” said Sutton.
“That mist can be suspended in the air with fine particles. We think the exposures are to that event, this nebuliser whereby the virus was carried out into the corridor and exposed the authorised officer, the food and beverage service worker and also the other resident.
“That makes sense in terms of the geography and it makes sense in terms of the exposure time.”
The three new cases have also brought about new exposure sites that are now considered high-risk areas. These locations include a Dan Murphy’s, Kebab Kingz, Pet Warehouse, Baker’s Delight, Cellarbrations, a Woolies and a massage joint in the Sunbury area.
These spots were all visited on the same day by one or more of the infected individuals, and anyone who has been to these locations is encouraged to get tested immediately.
“This is a changing, hyper-infectious virus, which means our quarantine program is constantly reviewed on the basis of expert advice,” said the CQV spokesperson.
NSW Health has also updated its advice for anyone who has stayed at the Melbourne Airport Holiday Inn.
“Anyone who worked or stayed on any floor of the hotel between 27 January and 9 February is now considered a close contact who must get tested immediately and isolate for 14 days regardless of the result,” wrote NSW Health.
Anyone who worked or stayed on any floor of the hotel between 27 January and 9 February is now considered a close contact who must get tested immediately and isolate for 14 days regardless of the result.
— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) February 9, 2021
Victorian Police are now securing the outskirts of the hotel.
I know Pitbull once famously said “we at the hotel, motel, Holiday Inn,” but maybe let’s not listen to him this time around.