DETECTED: 90% of coronavirus cases in Victoria can be traced back to just ONE hotel – after COVID-19 was transmitted to employees during the botched quarantine program
- The virus escaped Melbourne's Rydges at the Swanston Hotel, an investigation learned today
- Most cases can be traced back to a family of four who were moved there
- The four family members had all tested positive for COVID-19 by May 18
- By mid-June, a total of 17 employees and their close contacts had tested positive
Almost all of the second wave coronavirus cases in Victoria can be traced back to a single quarantine hotel, an investigation heard today.
According to government epidemiologist Charles Alpren, the Melbourne Rydges virus escaped at the Swanston Hotel after a family of four was brought there after testing positive.
The family returned from overseas on May 9, began quarantine at another hotel, and were relocated to Rydges on May 15.
Employees at a Melbourne hotel move luggage for guests in quarantine on June 25
All four had tested positive for COVID-19 by May 18.
The following week, May 25, three hotel employees were diagnosed with the deadly virus.
By mid-June, a total of 17 employees and their close contacts had tested positive.
The virus then made its way into the community and the outbreak is linked to an additional 24 clusters.
"It is likely that the vast majority – I said about 90 percent or more in my testimony – of COVID-19 infections in Victoria are due to the Rydges Hotel," said Dr. Alpren.
Almost all other cases can probably be traced back to the Stamford Plaza Hotel, which Dr. Alpren was also used for quarantine.
"It is likely that a high proportion, around 99 percent of current cases of COVID-19 in Victoria, come from Rydges or Stamford," he said.
46 Stamford Plaza workers and their close contacts were found to have caught COVID-19 from a man who returned from overseas on June 1 and a couple who returned on June 11.
Travelers who arrive in Melbourne go into their two-week hotel quarantine
Dr. Alpren said Victoria's health department saw "no evidence of any other transmission" outside of the hotels.
“That doesn't mean that there aren't any other transmission events that could be there.
"But with very few people coming to Victoria right now who may offer new import sources for the virus, this is becoming less and less likely," he said.
In late May, when the virus first broke out of hotel quarantine, 19 people in Victoria had died of COVID-19.
The state's death toll now stands at 351, with nearly 7,500 active cases.
The request continues.
RYDGES ON SWANSTON CLUSTER:
* May 9th – The family of four returns to Australia from overseas and begins the mandatory hotel quarantine. The first family member becomes symptomatic the same day.
May 10th – The second family member becomes symptomatic.
* May 11th – The third family member becomes symptomatic.
* May 12 – The fourth family member becomes symptomatic.
* May 14th – The first two family members test positive for COVID-19.
* May 15 – Family moved to the Rydges at the Swanston Hotel.
* May 17-18 – Other family members test positive for COVID-19.
* May 25 – Three employees at Rydges on Swanston Hotel become symptomatic. They will then test positive for COVID-19.
* May 26th to June 18th – A total of 17 people are epidemiologically linked to the Rydges outbreak and either worked in the hotel or with household members or through social contacts by hotel staff. Another case, a household contact from an employee at the Rydges Hotel, was diagnosed with COVID-19 in Queensland.
* May 30 – The Department of Health and Human Services receives an initial genomic analysis related to the outbreak and concludes that all cases belonged to the same transmission network.
* As of July 31, DHHS had received reports of the genome sequencing of 14 of the 17 epidemiologically linked cases. All 14 cases grouped together genomically and genomically grouped with the family of returnees from overseas.
STAMFORD PLAZA CLUSTER:
* June 1st – man returns from overseas and enters the mandatory hotel quarantine. He becomes symptomatic the same day.
* June 3 – Man tested for COVID-19, diagnosed with the virus the next day.
* June 10th – employee becomes symptomatic.
* June 11th – A couple returns from overseas and enters the mandatory hotel quarantine. On the same day, one of them becomes symptomatic. The second becomes symptomatic the next day.
* June 14th – Employee diagnosed with COVID-19. The couple will be tested for the virus.
* June 15-16 – couple diagnosed with COVID-19.
* By July 13 – A total of 46 people epidemiologically linked to the Stamford Plaza outbreak will be diagnosed with COVID-19. They are either workers in the hotel or household contacts of employees.
* The subsequent genome sequencing concludes that the outbreak consists of two different chains of transmission. One cluster was created by the overseas traveler from June 1, the other from the couple from June 11.
* To date, the DHHS has received genome sequencing reports from 35 of the 46 cases epidemically related to the outbreak.
* No links were found between the cases of the Rydges Hotel outbreak and the Stamford Plaza outbreak.
Source: testimony of Dr. Charles Alpren, epidemiologist for the Department of Health and Human Services.