Photo of Melbourne hotel quarantine nurse appearing to be maskless sparks fury

Questions are being raised after a Victorian hotel quarantine worker was photographed appearing to be without any personal protective equipment.

Victoria is grappling with a concerning outbreak of coronavirus after a returned traveller inadvertently spread the disease to staff and other guests staying at the Holiday Inn, near Melbourne Airport, earlier this week.

The cluster hit 13 cases late last night after two more people, both household contacts of previously confirmed cases, tested positive.

The photo of the quarantine worker, who is employed as a nurse at Melbourne’s Intercontinental Hotel on Collins St, was taken by returned traveller Jeff Dalton.

“There it was – no mask – and a nurse sitting in her little nurse’s station again not wearing a mask,” Mr Dalton, who shared the photo with 9 News, said.

“It doesn’t give me too much confidence.”

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Victoria undertook a complete overhaul of its hotel quarantine system after an inquiry into the state’s devastating second wave of coronavirus found a number of worrying flaws.

Quarantine Victoria said it was looking into the potential breach but said there might be a simple explanation.

It said the nurse might have been wearing a light pink surgical mask, which may not have been easily visible to guests.

Despite that, the organisation is still reviewing CCTV and investigating the allegation.

Victorian officials continue to defend the state’s revamped hotel quarantine program, despite a handful of outbreaks over the past few months.

“We’re operating this program under the highest strictest of standards,” Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said.

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Victoria’s coronavirus testing chief commander Jeroen Weimar said he would be “disappointed” if staff were ignoring the state’s stringent hotel quarantine protocols.

“I’m sure if that were to be the case there would be very swift actions by my colleagues to deal with that,” he told reporters yesterday.

“There are very tight controls about who can come in and out of a hotel quarantine hotel.”

Officials are working with the theory that all of the cases linked to the Holiday Inn outbreak are UK strain cases – meaning it could spread a lot more quickly than the strain that took hold of Victoria last year.

Both of the latest COVID-19 cases linked to the Holiday Inn cluster are household primary close contacts of previously announced infections.

It brings the total outbreak to 13, with six of the cases already confirmed by genomic sequencing as having the UK’s highly contagious B117 strain.

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