Inexplicable Testing Delays Increase Covid Risk to Refugees at Park Hotel

Refugee Action Coalition MEDIA RELEASE 21/10/21 INEXPLICABLE TESTING DELAYS INCREASE COVID RISK TO REFUGEES AT PARK HOTEL Around ten refugees in the Park hotel, Melbourne, are still waiting for results of Covid tests done last Sunday (17 October). The inexplicable delay is adding to the risk of spreading the virus to more refugees in the hotel. On 19 October, Border Force reported that 13 people were waiting for results. Today, 21 October, just three of them have got results - reportedly negative. But given the delays, and the lack of infection management in the hotel, that is little comfort. The testing delays only add to suspicions that Border Force is orchestrating the release of results. Refugees are not being notified by Victorian Health but are being informed individually by IHMS at the hotel. The failure to identify the source of the infection at the hotel reveals a complete breakdown of even basic Covid protocols, leaving both the hotel and the community at greater risk. Thirteen positive cases remain on level 1of the hotel. But ten of those cases were still mingling with other refugees on level 2 and 3 of the hotel last Sunday (17 October). With the hotel fully air-conditioned and with windows unable to be opened there is a high risk that Covid will spread from level 1 to other floors. All people on level 2 and 3 are being swabbed for Covid again today, Thursday 21 October. The failure of proper Covid protocols at the hotel means that more positive cases are expected. “This is attempted murder,” one of the refugees who tested negative told the Refugee Action Coalition, “They don't care if we die in here. I am negative but it is likely everyone in the hotel will get it [Covid]. Everyone is sick with worry.” Some of the refugees with Covid are suffering increasingly severe symptoms. But medical supervision at the hotel is completely inadequate. Only one nurse is rostered at the hotel between 8.00am and 4pm. Some refugees have had to wait hours even to get basic panadol pain relief. When the nurse is not present, IHMS must still authorise any panadol dispensed. “The Covid protocols at the Park hotel are a farce. The government has created the ideal conditions for further spread of the virus,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition. Refugee lives should matter, but the government is indifferent to the risk to their lives.” A protest at the hotel has been called by the Refugee Action Collective outside the Park hotel - Saturday 23 October, 2pm, Lincoln Square, Melbourne. (Link: For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713