September 26, 2020 11:13:48 am
The health minister of the state at the center of Australia’s coronavirus outbreak resigned amid a furor over the bungling of quarantine procedures at hotels.
Jenny Mikakos released a statement on Saturday saying she could not continue to serve in Victoria’s state Cabinet following comments by Premier Daniel Andrews to an investigation into the government’s quarantine program.
Andrews told the inquiry he didn’t know who made the decision to hire security firms to monitor the quarantine in hotels in the state capital Melbourne but that he regarded Mikakos as accountable for the program, according to a report from Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Mikakos said in her statement she never shirked her responsibility but that it wasn’t hers alone.
Victoria reported 12 new Covid-19 cases overnight and one death.
Unlike other states, which relied on police or the armed forces to oversee hotel quarantine, Victoria hired private security firms. Among a litany of problems, the contractors failed to use personal protection equipment, families were able to mix in each other’s rooms, and some guards had sex with quarantined guests, the Herald Sun newspaper reported.
Epidemiologist Charles Alpren told the judicial inquiry last month that at least 90% of the state’s coronavirus cases since May could be linked to the hotel breaches.
While the other states and territories have curbed or even largely eliminated community transmission, Victoria’s virus tally has swelled to more than 20,000 — about 75% of the national total.
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