Here we go again.
A traveller attempts to enter Tasmania, despite not being permitted, and later tests positive to COVID-19. If it feels like deja vu, that's because we have been here before - just over two months ago. A NSW traveller arrived in the state in August, without a valid entry pass, and then tested positive. But not before leaving hotel quarantine, and returning to NSW, via public transport and then Launceston Airport and potentially infecting Tasmanians.
Thankfully, that case did not result in community transmission - most likely due to the strong health measures in place in the state. But this time, we may not be so lucky. Not only did the most recent COVID case in the state arrive without permission, but they then left hotel quarantine, travelled to at least two households and potentially spread the virus.
While there had not been another positive case linked to the traveller as of Thursday evening, 38 primary close contacts had been identified - including 13 police officers - and 12 casual contacts. The man has received a substantial fine, but that fine won't alleviate the potential risk to the public.
So the question is, how did he escape quarantine? Welfare checks are undertaken when travellers arrive at hotel quarantine. But this traveller seems to have vanished between Monday night and Tuesday afternoon.
Serious questions need to be asked. It is not the first time hotel quarantine has resulted in potential outbreaks across the country since the beginning of the pandemic. In fact, in Victoria the mismanagement of hotel quarantine led to a dedicated inquiry.
Have we not learned from their mistakes? The traveller is at fault, and should be punished for his actions. But at this point in the pandemic it is obvious not all travellers can be trusted. And that is why we need strict protocols in place. We have done well as a state so far, but there are clearly still areas we need to improve on. The question is, though, is it our responsibility? Or the responsibility of the states where residents are attempting to travel from? Either way, it is a conversation that needs to be had.
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