The quarantine experience upon arrival into Australia - from exiting the plane (with 34 passengers total) to the quarantine hotel is rife with gaps, omissions and a policy that is flawed. The people in the system are wonderful, it’s the system itself that needs immediate and in-depth review.
From arrival with a clear COVID test 48 hours prior to departure, and after being one of the few people in the quarantine hotel having already cleared 2 COVID swab tests in the past 7 days, I am slated to be here for a total of 15 days. Simple attention to detail and observational records of my stay outline my concerns about the systemic failures and the reality of the entry into Australia through Sydney airport, and onto buses to COVID quarantine hotels. And let me add, after I frighten you with the gaps in the system that Australia’s illustrious “Let’s go to the footy just as an outbreak and lockdown has occurred around the world and oh… let’s take the family on holidays to Hawaii while Australia burns, and you don’t need to wear masks” Prime Minister applauds as a beacon of the best ways to deal with infectious diseases, as at Sept 9, 2020, no staff at any of these COVID quarantine venues nor at the airport are required to take COVID swab tests at all.
Only 1 of the staff that I have spoken with at the hotel I am quarantined at, despite implementing 2 tests on the interned prisoners, (Day 10 and Day 13), have EVER had a Covid swab test. The majority of staff in all quarantine facilities have not EVER had a swab test!
What is the problem mate you may ask?
Well, in case you were not aware there are asymptomatic COVID carriers!
Whilst this is not the fault of our overworked medics and nurses, there are unfortunately cases of health workers being infected and infecting others. A recent cluster in Sydney has 7 cases from an ED Dr who worked in two hospitals at two ends of Sydney. The spread of infection is not the fault of the staff at all airports and quarantine facilities, it is the fault of the aforementioned ad hoc, arbitrary, hastily implemented policy without review nor revision.
Without oversight, nor accountability, with no point of reference from medicine or science with which to gauge efficacy, such policy will not helpt community based infections and they will continue to occur. Without basically enforcing W.H.O approved Standard Operational Procedures that incorporate regular testing, N95 mask wearing, face shields and full PPE for health workers, police and security at any hospital or quarantine facility including the airports and transportation, and recommending all our population wear masks as well, we will not be able to control the spread of COVID.
One of this system’s basic failures that requires immediate answers and accountability, as well as immediate action, rests on the premise that politicians and police oversee a public health system instead of qualified medical professionals and scientists! As a result of failure to consult medical experts, this system does not implement infection control basics 101: test all personnel working within the vicinity of quarantine AND make them wear HAZMAT suits (full PPE). I saw more PPE on the woman from QLD who was denied the humane right to attend her own father’s funeral than any medical or security personnel in any part of the airport or transfer to the COVID hotel.
It may interest you to know further, that most of these staff at these quarantine hospitals work regular jobs in other hospitals. Is it at all surprising given this glaring omission, that there are “community outbreaks” with unknown origins? Given that the staff are not mandated to be tested for COVID, there is cause to suspect that there could be “community” outbreaks as a result of this gap in the system.
The policy regarding testing of staff at certain facilities is clear.
“Early detection of COVID-19 is always important and in certain institutional and community settings it can significantly change management. Settings where this is important include: aged care facilities; residential care facilities; correctional facilities; other institutions; remote Aboriginal communities.”
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