Does it cost more to put in place a proper quarantine system in hotels outside capital cities and with hotel workers fully protected and monitored, or does it cost more placing an entire capital city, area or even the whole state on lockdown?
All the latest community transmission of Covid-19 has happened with the virus imported from overseas by returning Australian’s that arrived and were placed in quarantine. It’s ludicrous that state authorities have not learned the lesson and put in place the necessary procedure to provide a safer quarantine program that does not put the community at risk leading to lockdowns.
We all have seen what is happening around some of the states in Australia with new clusters forming because of poor hotel quarantine management systems which inevitably forces the state to go on lockdown. Although the lockdowns have been cut considerably short, they are still taking their toll on the people’s mental health, local businesses, and the local economy.
Let’s look at the latest lockdowns that affected 5 states:
South Australia last lockdown was introduced at midnight 18 November for 6 days, this lockdown was linked to an Australian who arrived in the state capital Adelaide from overseas on November 2 and entered mandatory quarantine in a hotel. Hotel workers are believed to have contracted the virus after touching a contaminated surface.
New South Wales placed on locked down the northern beaches area on 20 December plus restrictions to the whole Sydney metro area after Avalon was declared a hotspot which then spread to other parts of greater Sydney. The lockdown and increased safety measures jeopardised the Christmas holidays as holidays interstate trips that people had planned to take to visit relatives or friends for the festivities or for a holiday. No clear chain has been drawn between international travellers or airline crew members and the northern beaches cluster, however, the federal acting chief medical officer, was confident the strain was the same as that of a passenger who arrived in hotel quarantine on December 1.
Queensland announced a three-day snap lockdown was applied to the council areas of Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands, from 6pm Friday, January 8 to 6pm Monday, January 11, to prevent the spread of the highly contagious UK strain of coronavirus. The city-wide lockdown was imposed after it was confirmed a Brisbane hotel quarantine cleaner had tested positive for the virulent British variant of the virus.
Western Australia called a 5-day snap lockdown on January 31 for Perth the Peel and South West regions after a hotel security guard in Perth tested positive for COVID-19. The lockdown ended February 5 but restrictions on mask-wearing, limited gatherings, and four-square metre rules have remained in place.
Victoria is still in lockdown after almost 1,000 close contacts were linked to the Holiday Inn Hotel cluster. The lockdown began at 11:59 on February 12 and should end tomorrow at 11:59, on February 26. Confirmed cases grew after a primary close contact of one of the workers from the Holiday Inn tested positive to the virus. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the number of people potentially exposed to the virus was expected to grow as new information from contact tracing, interviews and QR codes came in. He warned “there are cases out there” that have gone undetected on the state’s first day of lockdown. The Premier said the lockdown was a “precautionary approach” but added he felt coronavirus cases had slipped “through the net”.
I am not a subject matter expert and I will not suggest what is the best and safest way to manage quarantine, I will let the authorities decide that.
I can certainly see like everyone else that the costs of the lockdowns are far higher than a tighter quarantine procedure for returning Australians which by the way must pay all quarantine expenses out of their own pockets.
The lockdowns, snap ones, or long ones are dragging the economy further down, local businesses are struggling or ceased trading altogether and most importantly, people’s mental health is getting affected too.
To conclude, a better managed and safer quarantine system would avoid state borders and further restrictions to be put in place giving the aviation and travel industry the opportunity to breathe some air and start their return to business, which will save jobs in travel and with the airlines.