Scott Morrison has called for calm regarding changes to hotel quarantine.
Scott Morrison has called for calm regarding changes to hotel quarantine.

PM makes call after quarantine scare

Scott Morrison has insisted radical changes to hotel quarantine are not required despite the growing cluster of cases spreading through a Melbourne COVID facility.

The Prime Minister is resisting calls to abandon the city-based hotel quarantine regime in favour of purpose-built facilities in regional areas insisting our hotel quarantine scheme is the envy of the world.

A hotel resident's nebuliser is being blamed as the likely culprit for the latest outbreak enabling the virus to spread from the Melbourne travellers room, effectively weaponising virus particles spreading via aerosol transmission.

The hotel has been closed for deep cleaning as scientists try to work out how the virus escaped.

But asked today, "Is there a time for a fundamental change to hotel quarantine?,'' the Prime Minister cautioned against big changes.

"No. The hotel quarantine program has seen some 211,000 people come through it,'' he said.

"And we're talking about a handful of cases. I mean, this is a system the rest of the world wants to replicate.

"The hotel quarantine system has certainly had its shocks along the way, but when you step back and you look at the scoreboard, in terms of how Australia has fared compared to all the other countries in the world, it's good for us to be hard markers on ourselves...and we should try and get to - as a perfect situation as we possibly can, but I got to tell you, Australia's about as close to that mark as anyone else has in the world."

However, as the virus mutates and changes, the Prime Minister said some 'tweaks' may be required.

Scott Morrison has called for calm regarding changes to hotel quarantine.
Scott Morrison has called for calm regarding changes to hotel quarantine.

The Morrison Government is expected to consider quarantine at home options and shorter quarantine requirements as the vaccination rollout proceeds and rapid testing continues to improve.

"We will consider other options if we think they are viable,'' he said.

The Prime Minister, who flew into Melbourne today from Sydney said he was confident the Victorian Government had the situation under control.

"Well, I wouldn't be here if I wasn't confident,'' he said. "Business as usual for me being in Melbourne here today. But I'd say this. Look, I seek to support every state to be as successful as they possibly can be in what they are doing to manage the health issues around the COVID pandemic."

"So, you know, I don't have a favourite in any of this. I'm not looking to score them. I'm just looking to support them in what they are doing."

But Mr Morrison refused to criticise the SA border closure with Victoria insisting it was a matter for the states.

"As you know, I have always been an advocate of the hot spot approach and making that as localised as possible, because that's what keeps Australia open,'' he said.

"My objective is to keep Australians safe and to keep Australia as open as possible."

The Prime Minister said what voters wanted was to see "us working together."

The Melbourne Holiday Inn is the state's latest Covid-19 epicentre.
The Melbourne Holiday Inn is the state's latest Covid-19 epicentre.

"And I have got to say the states and territories do. They do work together,'' he said. "But as I said last Friday, the risk - the risk matrix is changing this year. And our responses will change this year. You know, we understand what happens. We learn from it.

"So, I believe our system is stronger today than it was three months ago, than it was six months ago, than it was nine months ago."

Mr Morrison also confirmed he would have "more to say about the Pfizer vaccine rollout in the near future." It follows confirmation that the vaccine exports have been cleared and will not be held up by the European Union.

"I'm very aware of the extreme pressure that has been on them in relation to their access to vaccines. So, I think Australia has done very well to maintain our supply lines here, as has been confirmed by the European Union. We're on track,'' he said.

Originally published as PM makes call after quarantine scare



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