The alarming conditions inside Melbourne’s quarantine hotels have been exposed as a fresh investigation gets underway in the bungled hotel program.
A Monday Four Corners investigation lifted the lid on “dirty” conditions and risky practises reported by guests and guards inside the quarantine hotels as it examined the conditions leading to the deadly second COVID-19 wave from Victoria.
Two inquiries are investigating the role of Melbourne’s quarantine hotels in the state’s community transmission explosion, which has seen 17,027 confirmed cases and 334 deaths from viruses.
Christine Cocks is an oncology nurse and infection management specialist who stayed at the Rydges on Swanston in April after she returned from a Greg Mortimer cruise ship overseas trip to Australia.
She told Four Corners conditions were “dirty” inside the hotel room and that while on duty, the guards were not adequately protected.
“When we arrived in our room and saw the fine layer of dust across the top of the bar and the shelves there, and the dirty table, the dirty desk, across the top of the bar, we had a feeling that things might not have been as clean as we were expecting of the whole situation and that the handling might not be up to what it should have been,” she said.
“Some people had stains on their sheets, as if the sheets were dirty. There were a couple of rooms that had bedbugs. Another person said that there was faeces in the toilet that hadn’t been flushed and urine splattered on the floor around the toilet that she had to clean.”
Ms Cocks told the program she was also worried about guards, working for private security companies, being potentially exposed to the virus.
“The guards that didn’t have their gowns on [but] would be wearing gloves and masks. But that doesn’t necessarily protect you,” she said.
“If you rub your face with a gloved hand and then after the glove is off, you scratch again, put it in your mouth, near your nose – you’re away. There goes your infection.
“It takes a mindset and an education to understand the nuances of non-transfer of pathogens.”
Guests staying at an undisclosed hotel filmed unidentified guards working for Unified Security sleeping on the job in stunning video and photographs obtained by Four Corners.
Unified Security has said the sleeping guards photographed were fired.
Four Corners also spoke to a guard at one of the quarantine hotels who revealed his shock at the inadequate on-the-job training and protective gear.
Unified Security has hired a lawyer to appear before the inquiry.