Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton revealed on Saturday that just over one in every 100 returned travellers tested positive during the first version of hotel quarantine.
“The likelihood of a positive case will vary depending on which country someone has arrived from, but we would expect to see at least a similar rate of positive cases being diagnosed in the coming weeks,” he said.
The state’s 42-day run of no new cases was broken on Saturday after authorities reported five infected air passengers in quarantine.
The COVID-positive passengers reported on Saturday were two men in their 30s and 50s, as well as three women in 20s, 30s and 50s, but the Department of Health has not revealed which countries they arrived from.
South Australians are now free to enter Victoria at will, as mandated permits for anyone travelling across the Victorian border were scrapped from midnight Saturday.
Sunday marks a full week since Victoria began accepting international air arrival again after a five-month pause. In early July, the state and the federal government cancelled all incoming flights to Melbourne until further notice after genomic testing revealed the bulk of COVID-19 cases in Victoria’s second wave had been seeded from hotel quarantine.
The second iteration of the quarantine program accepted 735 people within the first six days, with the state receiving an average of 160 passengers per day.
Deputy Chief Health Officer Professor Ben Cowie, who is in charge of health in quarantine hotels, said on Saturday that the detection of positive cases in the program was inevitable. But he added it was a sign of a working system.
“We’re going to get more cases diagnosed in hotel quarantine, of people who are safely in quarantine,” he said.
“And that is the system working as it’s intended to.”
All air arrivals are tested on arrival if they show symptoms, as well as day 3 and 11 of their 14-day hotel quarantine.
Rachael Dexter is a breaking news reporter at The Age.