Returned travellers staying in a Melbourne “hot hotel” for Covid-positive cases were being evacuated after a faulty sprinkler system caused significant water damage.
On the fourth day of Victoria’s snap lockdown, the state’s health department confirmed the two new locally acquired cases reported on Tuesday morning were close household contacts of people already infected in the Melbourne airport hotel quarantine outbreaks.
This brings the cluster’s total to 19 cases.
Thirty-one “hot hotel” guests were being evacuated from the Holiday Inn on Flinders Street. All had complicated health issues, were symptomatic or tested positive to Covid-19 during their quarantine period.
A sprinkler system was activated on the hotel’s fourth floor on Saturday, resulting in water damage to half of the eight levels.
Residents and staff will be transferred to the Pullman Albert Park Hotel, which Covid-19 Quarantine Victoria planned to make an additional site after recently housing Australian Open participants.
“[It] was assessed by ventilation experts and determined as the most suitable hotel within CQV’s current hotel stock to accommodate symptomatic and positive residents,” a spokeswoman said.
“Strict infection prevention and control measures will be followed during the transfer to ensure the health and safety of residents, staff and the community.”
All guests need to be moved in order for workers to be able to safely enter the hotel and fix the damage. It was expected that buses would arrive on Tuesday morning to transfer the patients.
Authorities are yet to rule out an extension to the five-day shutdown due to end on Wednesday.
The Victorian chief health officer, Brett Sutton, is waiting to see more data and conceded further cases stemming from the Melbourne airport quarantine hotel cluster were reasonably likely to arise in the coming days.
But he indicated they would not necessarily sink the chances of the lockdown being lifted if they are linked to the more than 3,000 Victorians who are contacts of confirmed cases and are now isolating.
“We’re hoping that all of those would occur in people that have already been identified, already been quarantined and would not generate any more exposure sites,” Sutton told ABC radio on Monday.
“That’s the critical thing. We don’t want new cases to emerge where we hear that they’ve been to multiple public areas or gatherings.
“That’s, in essence, the reason for this five-day short, sharp lockdown.”
The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, said while he was not yet in a position to confirm the lockdown would end as planned on Wednesday, the state was “well placed”.
“However, I’ve never been one to try and make bold predictions,” he said on Monday. “We just have to take this one hour at a time, one day at a time.”
Overnight, two new exposure sites were revealed. Both were linked to Monday’s case of a Covid-positive woman who worked at psychiatric wards in Broadmeadows and Epping.
They involved Sacca’s Fruit World at Broadmeadows and the fruit and meat section of Broadmeadows Central shopping centre in Melbourne’s north.
Anyone who has visited the greengrocer between 12.15pm and 1.15pm on Tuesday 9 February has been told to isolate and get tested, while those at the second site from 12.30pm to 1pm on the same day should monitor for symptoms.