Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Proposed quarantine hub near Brisbane airport

The Queensland State Government is considering a proposal from the Australian Federal Government for a CCP virus quarantine facility near Brisbane Airport.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has offered to pay for a 1,000-bed facility at the site of Damascus Barracks in Pinkenba.

Under the proposal, Queensland would build and operate the facility, which Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said had previously been considered and rejected by the state due to asbestos at the site.

The new federal proposal comes five months after Queensland first proposed a quarantine facility at Wellcamp Airport near Toowoomba, about 130 km from the state capital Brisbane.

Miles indicated his preference for a quarantine facility in a regional area, but said he welcomed working with federal officials to find a way to safely build a facility in the urban Brisbane area.

“It was a one-and-a-half page letter that we received after being provided to the Courier Mail late last night,” Miles told reporters on Friday.

“The only detail in the letter is an address. I’ll just note that when Queensland made an initial 15-page offer we were told it was too little detail.

“We will now work through that detail with the Commonwealth. Our officials have already started the analysis on that site, but there is much more to be done,” he said.

The deputy premier, reiterating his case for the Wellcamp site, called on the federal government to provide more details for the Pinkenba proposal.

He wants the prime minister to table Toowoomba’s proposal, saying the plan is well advanced and can therefore be built more quickly, and scaled up beyond 1,000 beds.

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“I think what Queenslanders liked about the regional quarantine proposal was the distance between this facility and people’s homes … and an urban area,” he said.

“This Pinkenba proposal is in the suburbs of Brisbane.”

In his letter, Morrison said Queensland’s plan for a facility at Wellcamp Airport in Toowoomba did not meet his requirements, in which it is on Commonwealth land, and within an hour’s drive of a tertiary hospital.

Meanwhile, Queensland Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk attacked the prime minister for rejecting his plan for the Toowoomba facility, saying it would already be open if he agreed.

She has repeatedly warned that using hotels for quarantine increases the risk of an outbreak of COVID-19 because they are not set up for infection control.

“Our hotels were not the last line of defense for this type of infectious disease,” she said this week, urging the prime minister to approve the Toowoomba plan.

But on Friday, his deputy premier acknowledged that under both proposals, the state would still rely on hotel quarantine to meet demand.

“We will continue to envisage the level of hotel quarantine under any proposal,” Miles said.

At present, about 3,500 people are in hotel quarantine in Queensland.

It comes as Morrison confirmed on Friday that a purpose-built, 1,000-bed quarantine facility for Melbourne had gone green for construction.



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