The opposition has accused the Andrews government of “withholding information” by announcing to the public that a hotel quarantine worker had tested positive hours after officials first became aware.
In a fiery question time on Thursday morning, Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien asked why a CFA volunteer who had exposure to the infected Grand Hyatt worker was informed by the CFA at 3.41pm on Wednesday, more than six hours before Daniel Andrews’s official press conference.
Police and Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville, who is overseeing hotel quarantine, also held a press conference with a hotel quarantine update about 4pm on Wednesday.
But she rejected the claim and said she did not know about the infected hotel worker until between 5-6pm at a meeting with hotel quarantine executives.
“The reason the CFA were able to contact volunteers who had attended a social event with the infected person was that the infected person himself – when he received personally his own positive test result from the pathology – contacted his brigade,” Ms Neville said.
Mr O’Brien fired back, saying Ms Neville as emergency services minister should be responsible for the CFA.
Ms Neville made the point the CFA “never contacted” her about the case.
“I didn’t hear about the CFA at all, and you might want to raise that with them,” she said.
“It was through a media inquiry, and then I reached out to the CFA to see what they knew which was after 6pm.”
Mr O’Brien then questioned why the government allowed a party with Australian Open players and tournament officials to go ahead at 8pm at the Osbourne Hotel in South Yarra on Wednesday night despite fears of community transmission.
Ms Neville said it “wasn’t our event” and tennis players were not deemed close contacts.
“Tennis players from Grand Hyatt are not close contacts, they are casual contacts – they are today going to get tested, and if cleared they will be able to compete,” she said.
Three MPs were booted from the chamber for yelling during the fiery exchange.
In a minister’s statement to the chamber, Mr Andrews said the fresh COVID-19 case would be an “inconvenience” for Victorians, but they had responded well early on.
“We’ve seen a massive response from people right throughout the southeastern suburbs,” he said.
“The infected hotel worker is a model employee, there were no breaches, he kept meticulous records and gave contact tracers everything they need.”
Two family members of the infected 26-year-old hotel worker have tested negative, with health authorities awaiting results of 18 more close contacts.