Australian Quarantine Hotel Closed Amid Melbourne Virus Cases

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A hotel in Melbourne being used to quarantine overseas arrivals has been closed after new coronavirus cases were linked to it.

The Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport will close until further notice, Victoria state quarantine authorities said in a statement Wednesday. About 135 staff and 48 residents who were in the hotel between Jan. 7 and Feb. 9 will need to enter a 14-day quarantine, while two schools located in the suburb that’s recorded seven new exposure sites have closed as a precaution.

The closing comes after a hotel quarantine worker became infected with the virus, and another person who was quarantined in the Holiday Inn tested positive after leaving there three days ago.

Melbourne, which is currently hosting the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament, last year endured one of the world’s strictest and longest lockdowns, which confined the city’s 5 million residents to their homes for more than three months.

Australia, which has recorded fewer than 29,000 cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic began, has come close to eliminating community transmission of the virus through the hotel quarantine system for all international arrivals, vigilant contact tracing methods, and promoting high testing rates.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters in Melbourne that while his state had improved its hotel quarantine system since breaches triggered last year’s three-month lockdown, hyper infectious strains of the virus being imported from overseas were proving very difficult to contain.

“This is a wicked enemy, made more challenging by the fact that it is changing, it is a moving target, and that really does cause significant concern for all of us,” he said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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