Western Australia’s hotel quarantine program has safely quarantined more than 40,000 people since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hotel quarantine includes the entire process from when a plane lands at Perth Airport, through to when the guest leaves the hotel after 14-days. It has many moving parts to meet the logistics, health and human needs throughout that process. Airports and hotel sites are not designed for clinical use, which add additional challenges.
Professor Tarun Weeramanthri conducted an independent review into Western Australia’s hotel quarantine after a highly transmissible variant of COVID-19 infected a hotel quarantine worker, known as case 903, sparking a five-day lockdown of Perth, Peel and the South West.
The ever-evolving nature of the virus means we are continually looking to strengthen the system to keep our community safe. A year into the pandemic we need to make sure that we are have a continuous, consistent and standardised approach to create a more cohesive system.
As more people become vaccinated and international travel into WA increases, it is clear the need for hotel quarantine may be required in the coming months and years. Continually looking at how we can improve and strengthen measures allows us to continue to keep our guests and staff safe, and the WA community, now and into the future.
The review identified 16 measures to strengthen hotel quarantine and opportunities for further improvement.
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.