Review of blood testing in hotel quarantine launched after contamination risk identified

Safer Care Victoria has launched an investigation into the use of blood glucose-testing kits in Melbourne's quarantine hotels, after it was revealed single-use kits were used on multiple people.

It is the latest bombshell coming from the state's bungled hotel quarantine system, which has been identified as the cause of more than 99 per cent of Victoria's second wave of COVID-19 cases.

The Rydges on Swanston, the Melbourne hotel that was the source of 90 per cent of Victoria’s second wave of infections.Credit:Getty Images

The hotel quarantine inquiry was established after complaints within the sector were leaked to the media, including of poor use of personal protective equipment and poor hygeine standards.

The inquiry has so far claimed two political scalps – Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Chris Eccles, and former health minister Jenny Mikakos.

Finger-prick tests routinely used by people living with diabetes, including pregnant women who develop gestational diabetes, were used in the hotel quarantine system. Authorities do not believe needles were used multiple times, but that the cartridges were touched by more than one person.

Safer Care Victoria, created as part of government reforms to improve quality and safety in the public health system, said there was a low clinical risk of cross-contamination and exposure to blood-borne viruses including hepatitis B and C, and HIV. There is also the risk of the spread of the coronavirus.

Safer Care Victoria is in the process of contacting 243 people who had a blood glucose level test between March 29 and August 20, based on information in their health record.

Acting chief executive Associate Professor Ann Maree Keenan said ther clinical risk was low.

"The health of past quarantine residents is our immediate concern, so arranging screening for them is our absolute priority," she said.

"The clinical risk is low. But if you are at all worried you had this test – and we have not contacted you yet – please call us.

"Right now, we won’t be able to answer the many questions people will have about how this happened. Be assured that Safer Care Victoria is conducting a full review into how and why this device came to be in use.

"I hope that we will be able to bring peace of mind through getting people in for testing, and through the findings of our review."

Anyone who underwent blood glucose testing in hotel quarantine can call the dedicated
patient line on 1800 356 061 (8am to 8pm, seven days a week). Interpreters are available on request.

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