“Our only source now of infection are others coming in from overseas, so if we stop overseas travel there will be no infections,” Professor Esterman said.
He also urged authorities to set up purpose-built quarantine facilities instead of quarantine hotels, which he says carry too great a risk of infection.
“Hotels were never designed to be quarantine stations, they’re not designed for it architecturally, their ventilation systems aren’t designed for it, and they’re in the middle of cities, which is silly,” Professor Esterman said.
“We’re now a year down the track and we should be thinking of other ways of handling this.
“This isn’t the only epidemic that’s ever going to hit Australia, we’ve got more coming in the future so we should actually have a system built ready for it.”
Professor Esterman was speaking after Victoria entered its third day of a snap five-day lockdown triggered by a cluster at a quarantine hotel.
The cluster stemming from the Melbourne Airport Holiday Inn now stands at 16 people.
Mr Andrews said a “discussion” is needed now around the UK strain, which is more infectious, is circulating.
Australians flying in from overseas are sent to hotels for 14 days at the cost of about $3000.
“I think there needs to be a cold, hard discussion, and I’m happy to lead it, if I have to, about whether, with this UK strain – and we haven’t even got on to South Africa yet, because it’s just as bad – should we be having the total number of people coming home?” he said.
From this week, just over 6300 overseas arrivals will allowed in per week, up slightly.
That includes NSW taking the most at 3010 and Victoria taking 1310.