Page 1500 - Week 06 - Thursday, 2 July 2020

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MR RAMSAY: As I say, Access Canberra is working to contact every single person at the moment. My understanding is that that has not been completed yet, but it will be, as Access Canberra is in contact. Certainly, when that contact is happening, it is being explained to people what the situation is, and the time frames around any medical tests that might be required because of their particular circumstances—as I say, while always upholding the primary issue of the general safety of people here in Canberra. I do invite people, if they have not been contacted and if they still have any concerns, to contact Access Canberra on 6207 7002, and they can speak directly about their particular circumstances.

Health—testing of quarantined travellers

MS LEE: My question is to the Minister for Health. Are overseas travellers who are currently quarantined in hotels in the ACT required to have a COVID test prior to the end of their quarantine period, and what happens if they refuse?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Lee for the question. Under the current public health directions, people returning from overseas—Australian citizens and permanent residents—are not required to have a test prior to leaving a hotel, but I note that we do not have anyone in hotel quarantine under these arrangements at the present time.

For the last flight, from Nepal, people were asked if they would take a test on day 11 of their quarantine. The vast majority of people volunteered to take that test. Obviously, as I said in my statement this morning, all of those results came back negative. All of those people were also health screened prior to being released from their quarantine on day 14.

Having said that that is the current arrangement, the Chief Health Officer is looking at the arrangements that are being instituted in other states, obviously needing to balance human rights with the risk associated with someone who does refuse to take a COVID-19 test. There are two elements to what has been done in other states in terms of, rather than compelling people to take a test, saying, “If you don’t take a test you’ll need to stay an extra 10 days at your own expense in quarantine,” and also looking at the introduction of saliva-based testing for those people who, for whatever reason, are very uncomfortable about taking that general PCR test, which may include children. That work is currently underway. Noting that we do not have a flight currently scheduled for the ACT, that work will be sorted out in quite quick order.

MS LEE: Minister, have we had any instances of passengers leaving hotel quarantine without permission or prior knowledge of ACT Health before their quarantine period ended?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I will take the question on notice to come back to the Assembly with full detail. To my knowledge, the only instance that I am aware of was following the flight from India: on the very first night somebody left their room and spoke to a police officer who was in the hotel, to ask a question. That person was advised that they should immediately return to their room and given further information about who they could call if they had questions. That is the only breach

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