Kathryn Lewis

Canberra hotel quarantine workers to be tested for COVID-19 weekly | The Canberra Times

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Canberra’s quarantine hotel workers will be tested for COVID-19 weekly as the chief health officer says the system has been improved ahead of the capital’s first repatriation flight in months. The flight due to arrive on Thursday will be the first of two bringing Australians stranded overseas back home before Christmas. ACT chief health officer Kerryn Coleman said the hotel quarantine system had been improved since the last repatriation flight landed in Canberra in June. “There are things we are doing at the airport, at the hotel, to support individuals in quarantine as well as the workers,” Dr Coleman told ABC Radio Canberra. She said ACT Health was looking to impose a “surveillance program” for workers at highest-risk of coming into to contact with travellers. “We won’t be tracking them while they are out doing their community work, we will be asking them to share if they are attending high-risk environments so we can be ready if they unfortunately become a case,” she said. Some workers would also undergo a weekly COVID-19 test. “Not all of the hotel staff will be tested, we will be working with the hotel staff about those workers that are most likely to come into contact,” she said. “We have done everything we can to minimise contact with the individuals but what we need to look at is whether there are opportunities for contact with touch surfaces.” International travellers will be screened upon arrival to Canberra Airport and if they display symptoms will be tested. All travellers will stay at one hotel but Dr Coleman would not say which one. They will then be offered a COVID-19 test on their first day in quarantine and another on the 11th day. Dr Coleman said while neither test was mandatory if people didn’t take the test on day 11 they would be required to quarantine for a further 10 days. “To account for the off chance they are one of the people with a longer incubation period,” she said. As cases across the globe skyrocket, Dr Coleman said the ACT’s COVID tally would too as we welcomed overseas passengers. “We do know we will get cases in our returned overseas travellers … we have been working really hard to make sure our infection prevention and control procedures are as strong and tight as possible,” she said.

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