UK quarantine hotels gearing up for failure, warns expert

13 February 2021, 11:08

By Seán Hickey

This epidemiologist feared that the UK's failure to learn from the mistakes of Australia in their quarantine hotel strategy will be detrimental.

Professor Michael Toole is an epidemiologist at the Burnet Institute in Melbourne and has been at the fore of Australia's battle against coronavirus.

He joined Andrew Castle in advance of the UK's introduction of a quarantine hotel strategy similar to that of Australia and New Zealand and picked apart the initial planning.

Andrew noted that staff at these hotels would be "wearing standard surgical masks" and wondered if that would be enough to protect staff.

Professor Toole insisted that in Australia they "found out the hard way" that N95 masks were a must for staff enforcing quarantine in hotels, as surgical masks simply didn't protect them.

Andrew went on: "We're going to be letting our inmates out for a smoke break and some exercise," adding that "they'll be accompanied" by security staff who "have minimal training or no training."

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"The hiring of private security guards who may have second or third jobs just does not work," the epidemiologist insisted, adding that there is potential for spread outside of the quarantine hotel.

"Guests just cannot be let outside their rooms" he added.

Professor Toole stressed the "need for really meticulous planning" by the UK Government rather than repeating the mistakes made by Australia last year.

"I really recommend the UK look at those operational details and aim for the very best."

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