Police records show 99 security guards were stood down or terminated for coronavirus medi-hotel breaches in South Australia.
- Twenty-three security guards were caught sleeping on the job
- There were 35 failures to properly use personal protective equipment
- SA’s Chief Public Health Officer says security model changes should prevent further breaches
SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens provided a list of all the breaches to an SA parliamentary committee last month and it was released by the Opposition today.
One of the security guards was terminated for falsely claiming to be “a member of ‘Defence’ to enter [a] parking facility associated with the medi-hotel”, the records show.
One was “observed to be smelling of alcohol” while on duty; another was caught posting a video on social media, taken inside a medi-hotel while on duty; another “became disorderly” when found using a mobile phone on duty.
That security guard was one of 31 disciplined for using a mobile phone while on the job.
A further 23 security guards were caught sleeping while on duty.
Only one of those was terminated, with the other 22 “stood down” from duties.
Of the remaining breaches, 35 were for failures to properly use personal protective equipment and seven were labelled “other (miscellaneous)” breaches.
SA Labor Opposition health spokesperson Chris Picton described the breaches as “shocking”.
“Every precaution must be taken to ensure that our state stays safe,” Mr Picton said.
Changes should prevent further breaches, Chief Health Officer says
SA Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said she was confident in the safety of the system.
She said “significant improvements” had been made to medi-hotel protocols since the Parafield cluster briefly sent South Australia into lockdown late last year.
“When we previously had security guards sitting for long periods of time — up to 12 hours — you can appreciate how somebody might have nodded off,” Professor Spurrier said.
“But we have redone our security model and we have much more roving security, we’ve got state of the art CCTV and infrared sensors.
SA Health believes that COVID-19 outbreak started in the Peppers Waymouth Hotel in Adelaide’s CBD, but likely because of poor ventilation rather than an individual breaching infection controls.
“I’m very confident about the way the medi-hotels are currently being run,” Professor Spurrier said.
“We want to know every single time that somebody might have touched their face when they’ve had their mask on, or perhaps didn’t use hand sanitiser or the like.
“So I’m actually pleased to see we’ve got a high level of reporting … if we don’t have that reported then we can’t do something about it.”
Acting Health Minister Rob Lucas said he was encouraged by level of reporting and the disciplinary action taken in response.
“I think the fact that we’ve seen regular reporting of incidents such as use of mobile phones or inappropriate wearing of PPE …. is an example of the system working, and working effectively,” he said.
South Australians urged to rethink travel to Victoria
Meanwhile, Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said South Australians should reconsider travelling to Victoria as the state’s health authorities worked to contain a COVID-19 outbreak.
But she said SA’s border with Victoria would remain open for now.
Professor Spurrier said the Victorian situation was “relatively stable” and two close contacts in SA were in quarantine and had tested negative.
“I am very hopeful the situation in Victoria will come to an end, and obviously we will be looking at the border, but that’s not necessary at the moment,” she said.
“It is important we take a proportionate response … and be very mindful of the great work Victoria is doing with their contact tracing.”
People travelling across the border are being sent text messages urging them to check the Victorian health website for exposure sites.
South Australia has recorded zero new cases today, but a second returned traveller has been shown to have the UK’s highly infectious coronavirus strain.