AUSTRALIAN officials have begun an investigation into allegations that a new coronavirus outbreak in the state of Victoria was sparked by employees flouting social distancing measures at a hotel used to quarantine international arrivals, including having sex with people under lockdown.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Thursday that the state government would provide $3 million to support the judicial inquiry.
Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, reentered lockdown on Wednesday as the number of coronavirus cases increased. Victoria has experienced double-digit increases of COVID-19 cases each day over the past two weeks. Officials there report 345 confirmed active cases. Melbourne, the state capital, has seen 112 cases, with 19 confirmed currently active cases, according to the Victoria Health and Human Services.
Andrews said in a statement on Tuesday that COVID-19 cases through late May and early June “can be linked to an infection control breach in the hotel quarantine program.”
Authorities in Australia have been utilizing hotels across the country to control the spread of the virus, and anyone arriving in Australia must quarantine for 14 days at the facilities, which are managed by the government.
Only citizens and permanent residents are allowed into the country.
Australian broadcaster ABC reported that 31 cases have been linked to Melbourne’s Stamford Plaza Hotel. Others have been linked to the Ryydges on Swanston hotel, also in Melbourne.
In Thursday’s announcement, Andrews said that no international travelers would be allowed in Melbourne for two weeks while the hotel quarantine program is “reset under the supervision of Corrections Victoria.”
“It is abundantly clear that what has gone on here is completely unacceptable and we need to know exactly what has happened,” he added