MELBOURNE, Australia — The Victorian opposition, Liberal Party of Australia (Victorian division has called for the head of the state’s hotel quarantine program to resign, following more reports of infection control breaches within the program.
Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien on May 6 called for Emma Cassar, the head of Covid-19 Quarantine Victoria (CQV), to resign from her position.
“I have no confidence in Emma Cassar and I don’t think any Victorian can have confidence in Emma Cassar,” he said.
“She’s more interested in acting as a spin doctor and protecting the Labor government than she is in actually delivering safe outcomes.”
O’Brien’s comments come after it was revealed two senior public servants have been stood down from the program after they reportedly committed multiple compliance breaches.
Matiu Bush, general manager of infection prevention and control at COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria (CQV), was stood down on May 5 pending an investigation, after refusing to undergo a mandatory COVID-19 test following a visit to a quarantined hotel.
Bush, who has been involved in the program since June, also failed to change masks and sanitize at another hotel after stepping out to get a coffee, as per a media report.
On May 6, An Australian newspaper revealed another public servant was removed from the program.
The person worked as a manager at the Novotel at Melbourne Central, where there were reportedly 51 incident reports in the first month of operations.
Fifteen of the incidents were related to infection control breaches.
It is understood that the manager was seconded from the Department of Health to work for Covid-19 Quarantine Victoria and has since returned to their role.
The minister responsible for hotel quarantine, Danny Pearson, said the incidents were proof the culture of “active reporting” within the program was working.
“It’s got to be about continuous improvement, it’s got to be about having honest conversations. We’ve got to get the culture right,” he said.
Pearson said he would not sack Cassar.
“Cassar is an outstanding public servant, she’s working tirelessly and she’s doing a fantastic job,” he said.
Cassar, who is also the commissioner of Corrections Victoria, has been in charge of hotel quarantine since it was overhauled in December.
The state’s second wave of coronavirus, last year resulted in more than 18,000 new infections, 800 deaths, and a 112-day lockdown, leaked from hotel quarantine.
The program was again revamped in April, after hotel quarantine workers contracted the United Kingdom Covid-19 strain from returned travelers in February, triggering a statewide five-day lockdown.
(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Nikita Nikhil. Map by Urvashi Makwana)