Western Australia’s top doctor has taken aim at the state’s “hopeless” quarantine system after a security guard contracted COVID-19 and inadvertently infected two of his housemates, including a delivery driver.
Australian Medical Association WA president Andrew Miller said he did not have confidence in the system and has also labelled the federal government’s move to deny stranded Australians the right to return home from India as “absolutely unacceptable”.
Contact tracers are yet to reveal how the worker contracted the virus, but so far Perth has avoided another snap lockdown. Dr Miller said it was time for an overhaul of the state’s system.
“We have shown it travels down hallways a lot further than 1.5m, and surgical masks are inadequate for workers and guests who might be near people who are COVID positive,” he told the Today show.
“We have to be thinking about the future and how we can prevent airborne disease spreading around as easily as it does now.
“We only have 30 positive cases in our system out of 2100, and that has been enough to cause the whole thing to shut down, and we can’t have people coming back from India which is a complete disgrace.
It is not a quarantine system. It is a hopeless system.”
When asked whether he agreed with Prime Minister Scott Morrison that the system was “overworked” and needed a rest, Dr Miller said a true quarantine system “should be able to have thousands of people with the disease (in it) and it not be a problem”.
“If you can’t run a system where less than 2 per cent of your people have COVID and still keep it out of the community, it is not quarantine,” he said.
Dr Miller said the system was also failing Australians stranded in India after the federal government introduced new legislation on the weekend that could fine or jail people should they come back within the next two weeks.
“I think once people see beyond their own fear of the disease, they will understand that these are the people who are suffering because we haven’t got our act together on quarantine or vaccine in this country,” he said.
“They are the ones paying the price for us now … our fellow Australians who have been trapped overseas for quite some time.
“We have to look after our own. It is not Australian to trap people overseas. It is absolutely unacceptable and outrageous.”
Dr Miller said he wanted to apologise to Indian-Australians that “those of us who have a voice in this were not able to stop that particular decision from happening”.
“I’m really sorry,” he added.