One detainee brought into the Rydges Hotel on June 27 encountered a filthy room with used masks on the floor, an inquiry into Victoria’s bungled hotel quarantine program has heard.
Photos tendered to the inquiry revealed used face masks on the ground of a hotel room, along with dirty bed sheets and dust on walls and the floor.
Cleaning company Ikon Services Australia was responsible for multiple cleans at the hotel with general manager Michael Girgis revealing his employees were last asked to clean rooms by the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions on June 3.
When shown the photos Mr Girgis, said the dirty conditions were “not indicative” of the work his staff members produced.
“We don’t have any control over what happens after we clean rooms – so there’s obviously a time lapse there,” he said.
The hotel was closed to detainees from May 28, after one hotel staff member returned a positive coronavirus test result.
There was a subsequent outbreak of six more staff, leading to the hotel’s closure until June 27.
Mr Girgis maintained his cleaning protocols were “stringent” – where his workers would disinfect, sanitise and use a fogging chemical mist to kill germs on surfaces in rooms.
Mr Girgis also told the inquiry he was “never made aware” the Rydges hotel was used as a site strictly for detainees positive for COVID-19.
He also said he was never made aware of any outbreaks among hotel staff members prior to being asked to conduct cleaning jobs.
“It’s good to know – first and foremost for the safety of staff – if we go in and clean we have a designated area but in common areas we need to make staff aware of that (prior staff outbreaks) for safety.”
JUST ONE PER CENT OF HOTEL QUARANTINE DETAINEES TESTED POSITIVE
Only one per cent of returned travellers who passed through Victoria’s botched hotel quarantine program returned a positive COVID-19 test result, an inquiry has heard.
Assisting counsellor at Friday’s hearing Ben Ihle told the inquiry about 18,000 people in Victoria had become infected with coronavirus since an outbreak among staff members at the Rydges Hotel at the end of may.
It was revealed just over 20,000 people passed through the hotel quarantine program.
Department of Health accommodation manager Pam Williams told the inquiry a hotel quarantine scheme was a program that would take “years” to prepare properly.
“We didn’t have months and months to prepare – this is something that would happen over years. We were doing this as it was happening,” she said.
Department of Health and Human Services policy advisor Merrin Bamert will appear today, along with deputy chief health officer Dr Annaliese Van Diemen.
It comes after explosive claims on Thursday that chief health officer Brett Sutton was rolled by a senior health bureaucrat who refused to appoint him to the position of state controller of the COVID-19 crisis.
The hotel quarantine inquiry heard evidence that Professor Sutton disagreed with the decision to sideline him from the job, explicitly laid out for him under Victoria’s emergency health plans.
DHHS deputy secretary Melissa Skilbeck said her decision to appoint someone other than Prof Sutton was made because of “the significant demands on the time of the CHO’’ and the requirement for him to lead “public health communications with the Victorian community”.