The general manager of infection control at the agency running Victoria’s hotel quarantine program has been stood down after allegedly breaching their own protocols twice in the past two months.
Minister for Government Services Danny Pearson said he became aware of the reports last night and had stood aside COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria’s (CQV) general manager of infection prevention and control, Matiu Bush, pending a review into their conduct and behaviour.
“This issue with [Matiu] Bush goes more to [their] attitude and behaviour: there were infection control breaches, but they were of a very low level,” Mr Pearson said.
“Public confidence is paramount, and I don’t think the public would want to see someone in a senior leadership role continue to behave in this way, that’s why [they have] been stood down.”
The head of CQV, Emma Cassar, said the breaches were minor but disappointing.
She said the first incident involved Matiu Bush refusing to get tested at one quarantine hotel after a request by ADF personnel, but they were eventually tested at another site.
“[They] still met the requirement to have a daily test … but my understanding is the staff member did make comments about the fact [they] didn’t need to be tested at that site,” Ms Cassar said.
“We expect the highest standards from our staff, and this has fallen well short of that.”
Another incident involved the infection control manager getting a coffee from a coffee shop and coming back to a quarantine hotel without changing their mask or sanitising.
The leaked incident reports detailing the breaches were published in The Australian newspaper, which also published an internal report contradicting claims by the government that an outbreak at the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel in February was caused by a banned nebuliser.
Instead, the CQV infection control report said the “proposed working hypothesis” was that the leak was caused by a staff member who took an extended amount of time to swab a guest.
Ms Cassar on Wednesday said that was not her understanding.
“The working hypothesis is still as I understand, is that this was caused by the nebuliser,” she said.
The Victorian Opposition has called for all of the incident reports to be released to the public and said the state government had not learnt the lessons from previous hotel quarantine leaks.
“This is an outbreak waiting to happen, this is a lockdown waiting to happen, because the government hasn’t learnt the lessons and they still can’t get it right,” Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said.
Victoria recorded no new locally acquired COVID-19 cases on Wednesday for the 68th day in a row.
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