Australia news live: hotel quarantine hit by Covid infections; national cabinet to meet on vaccine rollout

Good morning, it’s Matilda Boseley here ready to take you through the highs and lows of Thursday.

Oh, and we are starting off with a bit of a low, with not one but two states grappling with Covid-19 spreading in their hotel quarantine facilities.

First up with have Western Australia, where two returned travellers contracted Covid-19 in hotel quarantine in the Mercure Hotel in Perth.

The WA Health Department had previously reported the infections as being acquired overseas, but genomic sequencing has since confirmed otherwise.

They released a statement on Wednesday night:


The virus was transmitted in hotel quarantine at the Mercure Hotel, as two sets of guests, in rooms opposite each other, had the same sequence of virus – despite arriving from different countries at different times.

Other guests who stayed on the same sixth floor at the same time were previously released from the hotel after testing negative. The department says they are being contacted, retested and directed to self-isolate.

NSW is also grappling with a similar issue – for the second time this week.

The health department believes the South African variant of Covid-19 has jumped rooms, infecting another returned traveller in the Mercure Hotel quarantine facility on George Street in Sydney’s CBD.

Two of the three people infected were family members and stayed in connecting rooms on the 10th floor, while the third person was staying in a separate adjacent room, all arriving on the same flight on 3 April.

The state’s health department is now scrambling to contact everyone who has stayed on the same floor between 7 April and 12 April (when authorities believe the infection occurred).

The department says those people will be directed to get tested and self-isolate until 14 days after they left quarantine at the Mercure Hotel, as will relevant hotel staff.

You might remember that over the weekend there was also a separate case of transmission between hotel rooms of the Adina Apartment Hotel at Town Hall. The department says those investigations are ongoing.

Just before we get started, it’s worth remembering we are also expecting a meeting of the national cabinet today, where it’s expected the federal government will sign off on opening up Astra Zeneca vaccinations for everyone over 50 in Australia.

Now, if there is something you reckon I’ve missed or think should be in the blog but isn’t, shoot me a message on Twitter @MatildaBoseley or email me at matilda.boseley@theguardian.com.

Let’s jump in!



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