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Tasmania’s COVID hotel quarantine system to be tested as state negotiates to receive international arrivals

By on August 26, 2021 0

Prime Minister Peter Gutwein says it is very likely that Tasmania’s hotel quarantine system will see positive cases of COVID as the state negotiates the possibility of international arrivals with the federal government.

To date, Tasmania has only received one international repatriation flight, from Delhi, which arrived in the state in December last year.

The state had initially agreed to take three repatriation flights, but struck a deal with Victoria in January that saw the state take responsibility for quarantining 1,500 seasonal workers before working on Victorian farms.

In return, Victoria has pledged 330 people from Tasmania to quarantine Australians stranded abroad.

Mr. Gutwein said he was engaged in discussions with the federal government about accepting international repatriation flights or refugees who have been evacuated from Afghanistan.

“One of the options that has been proposed is that we can take a repatriation flight from another country to allow the opening of the quarantine in one of the largest centers on the continent to accommodate additional refugees. “

Although no agreement has been formally reached between the state and the federal government, Mr Gutwein said it was important for Tasmanians to be aware of the potential deal.

“If we take Afghan refugees, if we take a repatriation flight, the chances of there being COVID on any of those flights would be very high,” he said.

“We have the systems in place and we’re obviously dealing with seasonal workers right now, but I think right now, in terms of what we’re watching unfold, it’s important that as Tasmanians, as a Australians, we are doing our part. “

Mr Gutwein said Tasmania currently has the capacity to quarantine “around 150” Afghan refugees for a fortnight.

“The longer term repatriation program as we bring people back to the country is something we will obviously commit the federal government to,” Gutwein said.

“But immediately, the bottom line is that they are looking for available space so that they can bring refugees back and quarantine them.”

The hotel quarantine system has taken Delta a step further: Gutwein

Mr Gutwein said he was confident the state’s hotel quarantine system could handle any positive cases that may arise from repatriation flights or refugees.

“With Delta, we’ve taken a step, like every other jurisdiction in the country, to make sure they can handle what is a much more infectious disease.

“If we were to take a repatriation flight, whether from Afghanistan or another country that has already been booked, it is likely that there would be COVID on these flights and we will have to prepare for ourselves. ensuring that our systems are as robust as possible. possible to protect our community.

Increase in hotel quarantine capacity

Tasmania will also double its hotel quarantine capacity starting next week to allow more residents to return home from high-risk areas between states.

Currently, Tasmania has declared all of New South Wales as a level one high risk area, meaning anyone arriving in the state must enter hotel quarantine for fifteen days.

Victoria and ACT are considered level two high-risk areas by the state, with returning residents able to complete their 14-day mandatory quarantine at home.

Mr Gutwein said there were “over 100” Tasmanians who wanted to return home from New South Wales, and that there was therefore a greater demand for the hotel quarantine system in the region. ‘State.

“At the moment, we are looking to double the quarantine capacity of our hotels to allow more Tasmanians to return,” said Mr. Gutwein.

“We have about 150 rooms available at this point, we’ll be looking to double that to 300 or so.

“We will create 40 to 50 of these rooms in the coming days with 100 more [rooms] we hope so in the coming week. “

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