Quarantine workers face six months prison

 

Frontline workers in Queensland's hotel quarantine who do not get tested for COVID-19 every week face up to six months in prison or a $13,000 fine.

A new testing regimen, which comes into effect on Monday, will mean those who work in a facility - whether privately or through Queensland or Australian government departments - will be swabbed on a rolling weekly cycle.

It comes as Queensland marked 89 days without a case of community transmission on Sunday, but the Premier remains cautious.

Hotel quarantine workers will have to be COVID-19 tested weekly or face up to six months behind bars under new Queensland Health directions. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning
Hotel quarantine workers will have to be COVID-19 tested weekly or face up to six months behind bars under new Queensland Health directions. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning

 

Annastacia Palaszczuk said last week the rising number of infections around the world was the "biggest risk" to Queensland, with cases detected almost daily in quarantine facilities.

A voluntary testing system is already in place but will become mandatory in line with the chief health officer's directive after a two-week "transitional period."

Among those facing potential penalties for not complying are doctors, nurses, cleaners, police, security guards and Defence Dorce personnel as well as those who have indirect contact with guests.

Workers awaiting test results but have no symptoms will not need to self-isolate unless they have been identified as a close contact. If a worker does develop symptoms, they must remain in self-isolation until they receive a negative result and are symptom-free.

Failure to comply with the public health directions will result in six months imprisonment or a fine of more than $13,000.

COVID-19 cases in hotel quarantine are being picked up almost daily across Queensland facilities, with the risk to the wider community growing. Picture: Scott Powick
COVID-19 cases in hotel quarantine are being picked up almost daily across Queensland facilities, with the risk to the wider community growing. Picture: Scott Powick

 

It's the state's latest measure to combat the escalating risk of hotel quarantine as Queensland welcomes home more Australians from around the world, where global cases have surpassed 71 million.

Dr Jeannette Young last week announced fresh-air breaks would be suspended, as the risk hotel quarantine posed to the Queensland community was growing.

"Every single day we are seeing more cases occur in hotel quarantine, which means we've had to tighten up our processes," Dr Young said on Thursday.

"We have seen breaches that have led to outbreaks in other states, and I'm very cautious that I do everything possible to make sure that that doesn't happen in Queensland.

"Unfortunately, it is a risk."

 

Originally published as Quarantine workers face 6 months prison


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