Hotel’s Covid fail after shock pic emerged

An essential Covid-19 protocol was not in place when a disturbing image was snapped from inside a Sydney quarantine hotel.NSW Police launched an investigation late last week after an image obtained by NCA NewsWire revealed just how close members of the public came to returned travellers checking in to the Sofitel Wentworth in the city centre.The person who snapped the image was travelling down an escalator when they noticed a small group of people lining up to check in.Another member of the public was pictured on the escalator while a man dressed in army gear was travelling upwards.A worker, wearing a mask and gloves, was captured at the bottom of the people-mover in front of a pile of suitcases. In the far right corner of the image, one of the returned travellers is spotted holding a bag.Nothing but a small rope separated hotel staff and the returned travellers from community members.The image prompted a police investigation.“Police attached to the hotel quarantine operation conducted inquiries into possible breaches at a hotel on Phillip Street in Sydney and concluded that while there were no breaches, a protocol in place to stop an escalator when returned travellers arrive was not followed,” NSW Police said on Tuesday.“Police and hotel management have taken steps to ensure protocol is followed moving forward, including issuing daily reminders to staff and supplying additional rope barricades.”The woman who took the alarming image last week told NCA NewsWire army personnel were guarding the door and “they were ferrying regular people” toward the escalators.She said a small group of returning travellers had formed a queue for processing. “It just felt very bizarre that we could walk past with that tiny little rope as our only barrier,” she said.Earlier, NSW Police confirmed it had launched an investigation into “possible breaches at a hotel on Phillip St”.The Sofitel Wentworth was contacted for comment.NSW Health referred the matter to police.The arrangement sparked concerns, with leading epidemiologist Adrian Esterman describing the situation as “risky”.There have been several leaks within the hotel quarantine system across Australia, including as recently as a few weeks ago at the Pan Pacific in Perth’s CBD.A man from Colombia arrived in Western Australia via the United States on May 21 and tested positive two days later.A man in the adjoining room, who had arrived on May 16, was tested on day 13 of his quarantine stay and also returned a positive result.He had the same strain as the man from Colombia, which suggested there had been transmission at the hotel.Recently a man caught Covid-19 while staying at the Playford Hotel in Adelaide, likely after two doors in the same corridor opened within 18 seconds of each other.That man then travelled back to Melbourne while unknowingly infectious before spreading the virus to community members and triggering Victoria’s latest outbreak.The Sofitel Wentworth has also experienced its own leak.A hotel quarantine worker in March tested positive to the virus after contracting it from a returned travellers at the hotel.

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