Melbourne hotel quarantine security guards say they might have caught coronavirus while CARPOOLING

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Melbourne hotel quarantine security guards say they might have caught coronavirus while CARPOOLING

  • Eight guards contracted COVID-19 while working at the Stamford Hotel Plaza 
  • URM Security Director Mina Attalah said two guards carpooled on June 14 
  • Guards may have been infected while carpooling and working on the same floor
  • Six other guards were infected while working at the Rydges on Swanston in May
  • One guard worked as a food delivery driver while waiting for his coronavirus test
  • Guards used towels as pillows to sleep in the hallway while two got into a ‘scuffle’

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Security guards working at a Melbourne quarantine hotel may have contracted COVID-19 after carpooling and working on the same floor, an inquiry has heard.

Eight security guards subcontracted by MSS Security tested positive to the virus while working at the Stamford Plaza hotel in mid-June.

About one in 10 cases of the state’s second wave can be traced back to outbreaks at the hotel.

United Risk Management’s director Mina Attalah told Victoria’s hotel quarantine inquiry on Wednesday he was unsure how seven of his guards came to contract the virus.

He said no ‘obvious breaches’ of infection control – such as entering a guest’s hotel room – were identified.

Guards outside of the Stamford Plaza Hotel in Melbourne. Eight security guards subcontracted by MSS Security tested positive to the virus while working at the Stamford Plaza hotel in mid-June

United Risk Management’s director Mina Attalah (pictured) said one of his guards carpooled to work at the Stamford Plaza hotel on June 14 with a Security Hub guard, who also tested positive to COVID-19 around the same time

In a statement tendered to the inquiry, Mr Attalah notes one of his guards carpooled to work on June 14 with a Security Hub guard, who also tested positive to COVID-19 around the same time.

‘He wore a face mask during the car trip to work,’ he wrote.

The Security Hub guard worked on the same floor as two United Risk Management guards who also went on to test positive to the virus.

‘I am not aware as to the circumstances in which the remaining United guards who contracted COVID-19 may have contracted it,’ Mr Attalah wrote.

‘However, at the conclusion of the day shift on 14 June 2020, the three guards on that floor were replaced by three night shift guards (one of whom worked for United) and to my knowledge, all three of those guards subsequently contracted COVID-19.’

Mr Attalah disputed an earlier witness at the inquiry, who stated 70 guards were in one conference room and not socially distanced during a shift changeover that same day.

Melbourne hotel quarantine security guards say they might have caught coronavirus while CARPOOLING

Security Hub director Ishu Gupta agreed with Mr Attalah, saying he ‘doubted’ that COVID-19 spread among guards from one meeting

Melbourne hotel quarantine security guards say they might have caught coronavirus while CARPOOLING

Six guards from Sterling Pixxel caught COVD-19 while working at the Rydges on Swanston (pictured) in May.

The guards were subcontracted by Unified Security

‘There was not 70 people in that room, that room is no way capable of carrying 70 people in it,’ he said, noting it was more likely 20 or 30 guards.

Security Hub director Ishu Gupta agreed.

‘I doubt that that was one meeting that kind of ensured that the virus was spread,’ Mr Gupta said.

Mr Gupta told the inquiry he only found out the first guard tested positive after he was passed on a Facebook picture of them at hospital.

Meanwhile, six guards from Sterling Pixxel caught COVD-19 while working at the Rydges on Swanston in May. The guards were subcontracted by Unified Security.

About 90 per cent of second wave cases can be traced back to the hotel.

One of the guards to contract the virus at the hotel, known only as Security 16 for legal reasons, earlier gave evidence that he had to ration personal protective equipment.

He said he had to hide his gloves and mask in his pockets on breaks while remaining out of sight of the hotel’s security cameras.

Melbourne hotel quarantine security guards say they might have caught coronavirus while CARPOOLING

Sterling Pixxel director Sam Aggarwal (pictured) said there ‘never any issues’ with PPE availability at the hotel – rather, there was ‘plenty’

Melbourne hotel quarantine security guards say they might have caught coronavirus while CARPOOLING

Guards were using towels at Crown Metropol as pillows for naps in the corridors and at the Crowne Plaza, and they were disposing of gloves in the toilets

Sterling Pixxel director Sam Aggarwal said there ‘never any issues’ with PPE availability at the hotel – rather, there was ‘plenty’.

Security 16 also told the inquiry he worked as a food delivery driver while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.

‘We told him to stay at home. We were not aware that he’s gone out and done any work,’ Mr Aggarwal said.

Sterling Pixxel guards were stationed at more than a dozen quarantine hotels, with Mr Aggarwal’s statement revealing a number of complaints were made against them.

Two guards were involved in a ‘scuffle’ that resulted in the police being called, guards were using towels at Crown Metropol as pillows for naps in the corridors and at the Crowne Plaza, and they were disposing of gloves in the toilets.

At least 15 guards were sacked by Sterling Pixxel.

Greg Watson from Wilson Security will give evidence to the state’s hotel quarantine inquiry later on Wednesday.

Melbourne hotel quarantine security guards say they might have caught coronavirus while CARPOOLING

Sterling Pixxel guards were stationed at more than a dozen quarantine hotels, including Crowne Plaza (pictured).

Mr Aggarwal’s statement reveals a number of complaints were made against them

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