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Thursday, 20 August 2020

Alarming photos of blood-stained bed sheets and used face masks inside quarantine hotel emerge as returned travellers lift the lid on what 14 days there was REALLY like

  • Photos have shown blood-stained bed sheets and masks strewn across floor
  • Taken by a guest who had stayed at the Rydges on Swanston hotel in late June
  • The guest, a top human rights expert, described scene of squalor in the facility 
  • Images provided to inquiry showed gloves, masks and toys underneath beds  
Shocking photos show blood-stained bed sheets and face masks strewn across the floor of a Victorian quarantine hotel room, as returned travellers described a scene of squalor and disorganisation to an inquiry into the bungled program. 
The inquiry on Thursday was shown photos taken by guest Hugh de Krester at the Rydges on Swanston hotel after he stayed there a month after a COVID-19 outbreak was reported at the quarantine facility.
Images presented to the inquiry showed mould in the bathroom and bloodstains on doonas - while gloves, masks and toys were found underneath beds.
Mr de Krester, who is the director of the Human Rights Law Centre and stayed at the facility with his family in late June, said his family was only provided with 15 minutes of fresh air on days 12 and 13 of their stay.
'Given the reports, we expected that our room would be thoroughly clean and smelling of disinfectant. It was the opposite,' Mr de Krester said in his statement.  
Couple Kate Hyslop and Ricky Singh, meanwhile, were not offered a fresh air break once while quarantining at Crown Metropol in mid-April, nor were they tested for coronavirus.  
The inquiry on Thursday also heard security guards working as part of the program misused personal protective equipment, while nurses went without.
Michael Tait, a nurse with 20 years experience, worked with the first arrivals into quarantine at the Crown Metropol and Crown Promenade.
He said only 25 guests were tested for COVID-19 in the first five days due to the lack of swab kits and personal protective equipment for nurses.
'We didn't have medium gloves until day four. We did not get N95 masks until day eight,' Mr Tait said in his witness statement.
Blood-stained bed sheet in a Victorian quarantine hotel room
Gloves, masks and toys were found underneath beds and across the floor of one room
Shocking photos have showed blood-stained bed sheets and face masks strewn across the floor of a Victorian quarantine hotel room
'We never got hoods, face shields or shoe coverings even though we were told we would.'
Meanwhile, he said security guards 'didn't understand the importance or even the use of PPE', and left used masks and gloves strewn on the ground.
'I saw security guards with their masks down underneath their chin, eating their lunch with gloves on,' Mr Tait told the inquiry.
The shocking images were presented to the inquiry by guest Hugh de Krester
The shocking images were presented to the inquiry by guest Hugh de Krester
Mr Tait described the Department of Health and Human Services policies as 'shambolic', while rules for guests changed 'every day, if not every hour'.
He said a woman who tested positive to COVID-19 was allowed to wait in a hotel lobby 'filled with security guards' for hours without PPE.
'Some of them (the security guards) had their masks on, some of them didn't,' Mr Tait said.
'As soon as I saw her I instantly grabbed some of the guards' masks and gloves and handed them to her and said, 'You have to put these on'.'
Another nurse, identified only as Jen for legal reasons, worked mainly at the Park Royal hotel for four weeks and expressed similar concerns.
'I saw a lot of mostly security guards constantly wearing the same gloves throughout their shift, going and making themselves a coffee without their gloves on, using their phone, things like that,' she said.
Jen said guests with serious mental and physical health issues were treated as if they were 'a problem and being annoying'.
She said a man was told by a Department of Health and Human Services staff member that they 'need to stop threatening suicide just so they can get a cigarette'.
Another hotel guest, who suffered severe pain from endometriosis, was unable to access traditional Chinese medicine to help with the pain.
The nurses - who were contracted through Your Nursing Agency - said they were no longer given shifts in hotel quarantine after voicing their concerns.
'(Crown) Metropol is struggling. We are taking care of 700+ residents, lots of children ... we have a challenging task, taking care of 150 folks each,' Mr Tait wrote in an email on his last day.
He said he was particularly concerned after a guest had suicidal thoughts the night before.
Staff inside a hotel in Melbourne are seen moving luggage for guests in quarantine on June 25
Staff inside a hotel in Melbourne are seen moving luggage for guests in quarantine on June 25
'If there is a suicidal ideation like there was one last night we will be swamped,' he wrote.
The email recipient's name was redacted.
Hearings continue before retired judge Jennifer Coate on Friday.
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beyondblue 1300 22 4636

Nurse claims guest who threaten suicide was seen as 'problematic'
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