Prof Weeramanthri was the first Australian government sponsored official to emphasise airborne spread as the problem in hotel quarantine.
In his final report (full copy at the bottom of this page) he makes recommendations including
HMA/SHICC to transition hotel quarantine to a ‘one program, one culture’ model with strengthened corporate and clinical governance, in order to enhance assurance and manage current and future risks.
Advice #1 Ventilation recommendations
- WA Government to instigate an immediate independent expert review of airflow and ventilation in all WA quarantine hotels, to inform any risk mitigation strategy for airborne transmission from infected guests to quarantine workers, and determine appropriate ventilation standards.
- In the meantime, SHICC to require all quarantine centre workers to wear face masks at all times while indoors, and strongly consider a higher level of respiratory protection (e.g. P2/N95 masks and/or eye protection) for all workers at sites where ventilation may be problematic or not adequately assessed.
- Consider ventilation adequacy when requisitioning quarantine hotels.
Advice #1 Other non-ventilation recommendations
- Introduction of daily shift salivary PCR testing, in addition to weekly nasopharyngeal swab PCR.
- Quarantine centre workers to not work at other sites, and not to be financially disadvantaged by such a restriction.
- SEC to strengthen the Direction, and SHICC to strengthen protocols for testing and medical care of quarantine workers who develop any symptoms or fall ill.
- SHICC to:
- Monitor and provide system assurance that all HQ staff undergo regular face-to- face IPC training.
- Introduce periodic external IPC safety audits (as recommended by the Victorian COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry) to complement the current weekly internal safety audits at each site.
Advice #2 – Governance
- SEC to create a new Quarantine Advisory Panel within the existing EM framework.
- HMA/SHICC to strengthen the existing HQ model by appointing on-site managers to cover all HQ sites and Perth Airport.
- HMA/SHICC to bolster its end-to-end assurance capacity by drawing further on clinical governance expertise within WA Health to develop a specific clinical governance framework for the entire quarantine process.
- HMA/SHICC to review roles and responsibilities for hotel management and clarify these arrangements in writing.
- WA Government to negotiate immediately with the Commonwealth to re-establish the provision of passenger manifests.
- HMA/SHICC to undertake a comparative risk assessment for Quarantine Centre Drivers to determine appropriate testing protocols.
Final Advice – Data
- HMA/SHICC to create an integrated data system to cover quarantine guests and all quarantine workers.
- HMA/SHICC to identify data gaps, address data quality concerns and commit to data sharing arrangements with relevant partner agencies.
Appendix 4 outlines the recommendations as they relate to the scope of this review.
Given the limited time frame for this review, we were unable to do justice to the critical mental health and wellbeing aspects of HQ. Nor were we able to speak directly with, or obtain structured input from HQ guests or staff. These issues are addressed in the next section, as part of the discussion of what might change over the next year, and what might follow this review.