Health authorities are investigating potential breaches of hotel quarantine in Queensland after reports of returned travellers walking down corridors, answering doors without masks and going down to the lobby.
It comes as new detail emerges on the breach as Brisbane Airport, with Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt saying private staff were responsible for the “unacceptable” mistake.
In one incident, a guest at Sofitel Broadbeach on the Gold Coast left their room and headed to the foyer area about 2pm after a fire alarm was activated, Queensland Police told the Courier Mail.
The alarm was activated by a separate quarantined guest at the hotel using a toaster, according to Queensland Health.
The guest who left their room used the fire escape to reach the lobby, and was wearing a mask. They were escorted back to their room in accordance with standard COVID-19 protocol, according to a Queensland Health spokesman.
Nine News said workers had been brought in to clean every area of the hotel visited by the guest who left their room after the alarm.
Just an hour later, a busload of travellers from Singapore arrived, according to the network. Police officers stationed at the hotel were described as “very concerned” that guests at the hotel may not be following the rules after a number of reported breaches.
These included reports of guests walking along hallways and opening the doors to their rooms without wearing masks when health officials or police came to speak to them.
It comes just hours after a breach was reported at Brisbane Airport in which a returned traveller, who later tested positive to COVID-19, was directed the wrong area where they mingled with passengers bound for New Zealand.
The airport was on Friday named a “venue of concern” after it was revealed the passenger, who had travelled from Papua New Guinea, potentially exposed to the virus to 390 passengers who flew to New Zealand from Brisbane on three separate flights.
The infected man travelled from a “red zone” or high risk country but was inadvertently allowed to cross into the safe “green zone” area at Brisbane Airport and spent two hours there among passengers waiting to travel to New Zealand.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said he had been told that “relatively new private staff members” employed by Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) were responsible for the breach.
He said the Government was working with Queensland and the BAC to make sure “they do not do that again”, the Courier Mail reported.
“It will be (made) very clear that that is unacceptable,” Mr Hunt said.
Chief health officer Jeannette Young said it was an “just an error in terms of that staff member, which the Brisbane Airport Corporation has apologised.”
“Errors happen. We know they happen, which is why we have all of those other mitigating factors in place, and they all worked so it was picked up,” she told reporters on Friday afternoon.
Dr Young said the incident had not led to “any significant risk” and authorities had thoroughly investigated to ensure there were no problems. She said New Zealand authorities had been alerted to the error and the risk of Queenslanders becoming infected was low.
The man and his companion dined at Hudson Cafe for about 90 minutes before using the toilets and visiting a second retail outlet.
Staff at the cafe have been asked to isolate for two weeks, but Dr Young said other customers in the cafe did not need to because of the cafe’s open space.
“Anyone who was in the terminal between 9.45am and midday on Thursday, 29 April 2021, should monitor their symptoms and get tested immediately if they feel unwell,” she said.