A security guard has blown the whistle on a serious lack of training at Melbourne’s quarantine hotels, which has been identified as the source of the city’s second outbreak of coronavirus.
The guard, identified only as George, broke a gag order to appear on the Today show this morning, where he revealed he received only five minutes of training before being tasked to one of Melbourne’s quarantine hotels.
“And that was the PPE and everything, the box and dice and then we were sent up to your level,” he said.
His training was conducted by the head of the company’s carpark management, but George said the real problem was security companies hiring subcontractors to work at a much cheaper rate than regular guards.
“Every hotel quarantine has subcontracting happening and that’s the way the companies are making money out of this,” he said.
When questioned if this was happening at Melbourne’s Stamford Plaza and Rydges hotels, George replied: “Definitely.”
He also said security guards were only given one face mask and one glove to use for an entire shift.
A government spokesperson confirmed to Today that subcontractors were used “in some instances”.
The revelations come as Melbourne wakes to a divided city this morning with about 30,000 residents living in 36 Melbourne suburbs placed in lockdown in a desperate attempt to flatten the curve.
Victoria recorded 73 new coronavirus cases yesterday, with the Stamford Plaza outbreak continuing to grow.
Two new cases were linked to the cluster on Wednesday, taking the total to 31. One is a security guard in quarantine and the other is a household contact of a confirmed case. All cases were close contacts tested while in quarantine.
Meanwhile, security industry figures and quarantine-hotel insiders have revealed that hotel guards slept with guests during quarantine and security personnel wore personal protective equipment for up to eight hours without changing it, according to the Herald Sun.
Guards shook hands and shared lifts, some had just six hours of infection control training, some were caught sleeping on the job and quarantined families were allowed to go between rooms to play cards and games, the Herald Sun also revealed.
The scandal is now subject to a judicial inquiry with Premier Daniel Andrews announcing on Tuesday “a number” of cases through late May and early June could be linked to an “infection control breach” in the hotel quarantine program.
Mr Andrews also called for flights to be diverted to other cities with the quarantine hotels set to take no further people during the period.
“Clearly there has been a failure in the operation of this program. The whole way through this, I’ve been upfront with the people of Victoria. And to say I’m disappointed about what’s happened would be an understatement,” he said.
The inquiry will report in eight to ten weeks.