The security guard whose coronavirus diagnosis sent Perth into a five day lockdown has welcomed the release of an investigation into how he got the disease without ever coming into contact with a patient.
The security guard, now known as “case 903”, contracted the UK variant of COVID-19 at the Sheraton Four Points hotel then unwittingly roamed the streets while infectious.
The report recommended rooms undergo airflow assessments and for strengthened PPE requirements for hotel quarantine workers, a development welcomed by Case 903.
“I believe they’ll offer more protection for hotel quarantine workers, like myself, and to the whole community,” he said.
Camera IconA general view of empty streets looking down towards St Georges Terrace in the Perth CBD during the first morning of the lockdown in Perth, Monday, February 1. Credit: RICHARD WAINWRIGHT/AAPIMAGE
Case 903, who had been stationed in a hallway and several metres from the door of a room housing a positive case, was WA’s first case of local transmission in nine to 10 months.
A testing blitz produced no evidence of other infections in the community.
“As a hotel quarantine worker I followed all the rules in place at that time, and I did everything right. I used the QR code at every opportunity which helped health officers with their tracing,” he said.
“It’s now time for me to get on with my life just like the hundreds of other West Australians who have contracted and recovered from the virus.”
Camera IconLong queues outside Coles in Maylands, one of the potential exposure sites, in Perth, Sunday, January 31, 2021, after the 5-day WA lockdown was announced. Credit: RICHARD WAINWRIGHT/AAPIMAGE
Ventilation assessments have already begun, Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson said, starting with the Sheraton Four Points hotel.
He said some rooms would no longer be used as a result of the assessment, “including the room where the person who likely infected 903 was in”.
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Dr Robertson said the room closest to where the guard had been was more exposed to the sun, so the occupant may have turned up the air-conditioner, increasing airflow in the room.
He said more CCTV cameras would be added onto the floors of quarantine hotels, in addition to in-person security.
The incident placed scrutiny on WA’s hotel quarantine safeguards and led to changes including barring some workers from holding second jobs.
Dr Robertson commended the guard, who is now back home, and his house mates for their cooperation, saying they had done everything right.
Questions remain over how he contracted the virus.
The guard is not believed to have had any face-to-face contact with the infected person in the nearby hotel room.
Professor Tarun Weeramanthri, who conducted the review, said it was plausible that airborne transmission could have occurred via airflow under the hotel room door.
He emphasised the state’s overall success in protecting the public from the pandemic, citing statistics of 38,000 guests through hotel quarantine, including more than 500 positive virus cases.
“The WA public can have trust in a system which has delivered excellent outcomes so far and is committed to learning and continuous improvement,” he said.