Victoria hotel quarantine guests may have been infected with HIV



Daniel Andrews et al. standing around each other: MailOnline logo


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Victoria’s hotel quarantine debacle has taken a new twist after it emerged returned travellers may have been accidentally exposed to blood-borne viruses like HIV.

Safer Care Victoria is contacting 243 guests who went through the state’s hotel quarantine system and took a blood glucose level test between March 29 and August 20. 

The health body said testing devices intended for one person had been used across multiple guests – potentially putting them at ‘low risk’ of contracting viruses including hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV.

Safer Care Victoria acting chief executive officer Associate Professor Ann Maree Keenan said a review would be conducted into how the potential cross-transmission occurred.

‘The health of past quarantine residents is our immediate concern, so arranging screening for them is our absolute priority,’ she said in a statement.  



a person holding a bag of luggage: Returned travellers arrive at a Melbourne quarantine hotel in March. Guests across Victoria's hotel quarantine scheme may have been accidentally exposed to blood-borne viruses like HIV, it has emerged


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Returned travellers arrive at a Melbourne quarantine hotel in March. Guests across Victoria’s hotel quarantine scheme may have been accidentally exposed to blood-borne viruses like HIV, it has emerged

The scare comes as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews wages a bitter war of words with Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg over the state’s COVID-19 restrictions. 

There were just four new cases and one death in Victoria recorded on Monday, bringing the state toll from the virus to 817 and the national figure to 905.    

Mr Andrews has allowed Melburnians to get a haircut, renovate their properties and wash their cars but retail businesses, pubs, restaurants and cafes must wait until November 2 to reopen.

Mr Frydenberg on Monday morning vented his fury at the Victorian premier for his ongoing refusal to reopen the state.  

VICTORIAN HEALTH BOSS’ HIV WARNING TO RETURNED TRAVELLERS 



a person posing for the camera: Safer Care Victoria acting chief executive Associate Professor Ann Maree Keenan (pictured) said the risk of HIV transmission in the state's hotel quarantine system had been 'newly identified'


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Safer Care Victoria acting chief executive Associate Professor Ann Maree Keenan (pictured) said the risk of HIV transmission in the state’s hotel quarantine system had been ‘newly identified’

Safer Care Victoria acting chief executive Associate Professor Ann Maree Keenan said the clinical risk of infection of blood-borne viruses in hotel quarantine is low.

‘The health of past quarantine residents is our immediate concern, so arranging screening for them is our absolute priority,’ she said in a statement.

‘The clinical risk is low. But if you are at all worried you had this test – and we have not contacted you yet – please call us.’

The Department of Health and Human Services said it was helping Safer Care Victoria and Alfred Health to identify and contact residents about the ‘newly identified risk’.

The devices were removed from hotel quarantine in August and it is believed they didn’t contribute to the spread of COVID-19 as the virus isn’t transmitted through blood.

Needles on the finger-prick tests were changed between uses, but the body of the device is capable of retaining microscopic amounts of blood.

Most diabetics in hotel quarantine would have had their own device and not required a test from a nurse or doctor during their 14-day stay.

‘The test may also be used for pregnant women, people who fainted or people who are generally unwell,’ the statement said.

‘More than 1000 jobs are being lost every day on this premier’s watch,’ Mr Frydenberg said in Canberra on Monday.

‘The bloody-mindedness is unforgivable. The stubbornness is unforgivable. He’s making it up as he goes.’

Video: Major regional Victorian outbreak could have been prevented by improved contact tracing (Sky News Australia)

Major regional Victorian outbreak could have been prevented by improved contact tracing

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The Victorian leader angrily hit back later in the day, claiming Mr Frydenberg was playing politics.



a hand holding a remote control: Testing devices intended for one person had been used across multiple guests, Safer Care Victoria said. Pictured: A finger prick blood sample being taken in France in July


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Testing devices intended for one person had been used across multiple guests, Safer Care Victoria said. Pictured: A finger prick blood sample being taken in France in July



Daniel Andrews holding a sign posing for the camera: Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has waged a bitter war of words with Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg over the state's continuing strict COVID-19 restrictions


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Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has waged a bitter war of words with Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg over the state’s continuing strict COVID-19 restrictions

‘It’s all about the politics with this bloke, isn’t it? That’s all he does. He is not a leader, he is just a Liberal,’ Mr Andrews said.    

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The stoush threatens to make Friday’s national cabinet meeting more politically charged than usual, having not met for the past five weeks.

The Victorian government is meanwhile considering partly replacing its hotel quarantine program with electronic monitoring devices, The Age reported. 

State health department sources are reportedly discussing whether to implement electronic bracelets fitted with GPS technology so travellers could isolate at home.

Speaking to a business forum, Commonwealth Bank chief Matt Comyn said the country could benefit from Victoria acting more quickly to lift its limits.

‘People would certainly find the (slow) relaxing of restrictions and the impact on small business disappointing,’ he said.

‘It’s been a huge impact to businesses.’

Mr Andrews has indicated further restrictions could be lifted earlier than planned if case numbers remain low.

New South Wales in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday recorded no new locally-acquired cases and four cases in returned travellers in hotel quarantine.



Josh Frydenberg wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: War of words: 'More than 1000 jobs are being lost every day on this premier's watch,' Mr Frydenberg told reporters in Canberra on Monday.


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War of words: ‘More than 1000 jobs are being lost every day on this premier’s watch,’ Mr Frydenberg told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

However, the case total came from just under 7,000 tests, prompting NSW health authorities to again urge anyone with respiratory symptoms to get tested.

From Friday it will allow up to 30 people to gather outdoors, up from 20, while group bookings of up to 30 can now be made at restaurants and pubs.

The number of guests allowed at weddings from December will be lifted to 300, provided they are seated.



a woman walking down the street: From Monday, Melburnians can get a haircut, see an allied health professional and renovate their properties. Pictured: A woman exercising in Melbourne on Monday


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From Monday, Melburnians can get a haircut, see an allied health professional and renovate their properties. Pictured: A woman exercising in Melbourne on Monday

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein is hopeful his state will reopen to NSW residents from early November but will continue to monitor that state’s status for the rest of the week.

Mr Gutwein said the situation in NSW was pleasing, but added he needed more time before easing restrictions from November 2.

Queensland recorded no new cases as health officials continue to urge people with symptoms to get tested after virus traces were found in sewage in some Brisbane suburbs and parts of the Sunshine Coast.

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