- Victoria will construct a dedicated coronavirus quarantine facility for returned travellers, Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday.
- The facility will mirror the “village-style environment” of the Northern Territory’s Howard Springs quarantine complex, he added.
- The Victorian government is investigating areas near Tullamarine and Avalon airports as potential sites for the facility.
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Victoria will build a custom-built coronavirus quarantine facility for returned travellers, Premier Daniel Andrews says, as the state prepares to emerge from a five-day snap lockdown sparked by a COVID-19 outbreak in a ‘hot’ quarantine hotel.
Speaking in Melbourne on Tuesday morning, Andrews said the state government is “actively pursuing” the construction of a dedicated infrastructure to temporarily house new international arrivals.
The facilities would significantly bolster the state’s quarantine hotel system, without entirely replacing the state’s existing quarantine capacity.
Andrews said Victoria aims to copy the Howard Springs facility, a former mining camp some 30km south of Darwin, which has been repurposed to house Australians who recently returned on repatriation flights.
“It would be a cabin-style, village-style environment, where there would be fresh air, where there would be not zero risk but lower risk,” he said.
“That work is ongoing and a delegation of senior officials will to the Northern Territory as soon as is practicable to see firsthand how the Howard Springs facility is set up.”
“It’s more than just scoping it,” Andrews added.
“We are going to get on and build a facility.”
Areas near Tullamarine airport in Melbourne’s north-west, and close to Avalon airport, located outside Geelong, have been circled as potential sites for the new facility.
Overnight, Avalon Airport chief Justin Giddings said he had already submitted a quarantine centre proposal to the state government.
Today’s development arrives four days into Victoria’s five-day lockdown, which was instituted after a raft of locally acquired cases linked to the Melbourne Airport Holiday Inn quarantine hotel.
One theory examined by Victorian health authorities is that hotel quarantine workers may have inhaled airborne particles dispersed by a medical device used by COVID-positive guest who was staying on the same level.
While assuring Victorians in the safety of the state’s current hotel quarantine system, Andrews today said “we think by building this purpose-built facility, we can get the risk level down further.
Andrews also addressed the lockdown, saying the state was “well placed” to lift harsh industry shutdowns and stay-at-home orders.
“But we won’t know and we won’t be able to make a final call on that until some time tomorrow,” he added.
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