Australia’s deputy chief medical officer has dismissed claims Victoria’s quarantine officials knew about a returned traveller using a nebuliser in his hotel room.
On Saturday night, Dr Nick Coatsworth said hospitals had banned nebulisers in emergency departments a year ago, due to how quickly the machines can spread infectious diseases.
The comment from Dr Coatsworth comes as an outbreak of a highly infectious strain of coronavirus from a quarantine hotel is believed to have occurred after a returned traveller used a nebuliser in their room at Melbourne’s Holiday Inn.
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews ordered a five day lockdown for the state after 13 cases were linked to the hotel cluster.
Dr Coatsworth later clarified his tweet, saying medical professionals had known for years not to give a nebuliser to someone with a viral respiratory tract infection.
“Perhaps better termed as ‘old news’ not ‘fake news’,” he said.
Australia’s chief medical officer Professor Paul Kelly offered similar comments about the use of nebulisers, admitting the machine would’ve definitely posed a “high risk”.
“So a nebuliser is a high risk and we don’t use them in hospitals and how that worked out that it was being used in the hotel room, I’ll leave that to the Victorian authorities to talk to,” Prof Kelly said.
The Chief Medical Officer said he had confidence in Victoria’s hotel quarantine system, depite the outbreak.
“These are complex systems and I have full confidence in the Victorian set up quarantine, they have run a very good quarantine system. As indeed all of the other states and territories are doing it in their (own) ways.”
Victoria has 20 active cases after the state recorded one new case of coronavirus on Saturday morning.
The nebuliser debate comes as Victoria’s head of hotel quarantine doubled down on denials that health officials provided permission for the returned traveller to use a nebuliser at the Holiday Inn.
Conflicting media reports emerged on Saturday after the 38-year-old returned traveller told The Age he had twice been given permission to use the nebuliser for asthma while in quarantine at the Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport.
Facing tough questons from reporters on Saturday, Emma Cassar, the head of COVID-19 quarantine Victoria (CQV), said there was no history of a declaration that a nebuliser had been taken into the Holiday Inn by a returned traveller.