Findings of an independent review into Western Australia’s hotel quarantine arrangements has been handed to the WA Government, and have been endorsed by the State Disaster Council.
The independent review, conducted by Professor Tarun Weeramanthri, acknowledges WA’s successful public health response to COVID-19 with more than 40,000 people safely quarantined in WA since the beginning of the pandemic and no community transmission of COVID-19 recorded for almost 12 months.
The review into hotel quarantine was prompted following a hotel quarantine worker, known as case 903, contracted a highly transmissible variant of COVID-19.
Following case 903, parts of WA, including Perth, Peel and the South West entered a snap, five-day lockdown from 6pm, Sunday January 31 to 6pm, Friday, February 5 2021.
A year into the pandemic, and with hotel quarantine likely needed for some time, the review makes 16 recommendations to strengthen and improve hotel quarantine arrangements in WA now, and into the future.
The recommendations made over three pieces of advice range from improving on-site ventilation and infection protection, to addressing secondary employment of hotel quarantine workers, establishing better systems for gathering and sharing data and improving governance, accountability, organisational and risk management structures including establishing a Quarantine Advisory Panel.
As part of the review, Professor Weeramanthri visited all nine quarantine hotels and the Perth Airport to understand on-the-ground operations.
Key recommendations already implemented include strengthened testing regimes for hotel quarantine workers, and restricting high risk hotel quarantine workers from holding secondary employment, with a 40 per cent uplift allowance to supplement high risk workers’ income.
Other immediate actions from the review have been implemented including independent assessments of ventilation systems and the advertisement of Hotel Quarantine Services Site Managers.
These roles will manage day-to-day operations at hotel quarantine sites to strengthen corporate and clinical governance.
A new strategic multi-agency Quarantine Advisory Panel will also be established to enhance governance and sustainability of the hotel quarantine arrangements – as one of the key recommendations.