A security guard who contracted COVID-19 while working in Victoria’s hotel quarantine program made food deliveries while infectious.
The man, known only as Security 16 for legal reasons, began developing symptoms while working night shift at the Rydges on Swanston in May.
The hotel has been identified as the source of 90 per cent of current COVID-19 cases in Victoria, after a family of four tested positive to the virus following their return from overseas on May 9.
“I did not tell anyone at the Rydges hotel that I felt unwell. I thought it was just a common cold and nothing to worry about,” he said in his submission to the hotel quarantine inquiry on Monday.
The man said he also noticed other guards sniffling but “thought that was because it was a cold night”.
He admitted he wasn’t fully aware of coronavirus symptoms nor the need to inform anyone at the hotel if he had them.
After the shift, he went to hospital for a COVID-19 test and was told to stay home.
But after feeling “a bit better”, he dropped off three to four orders for a food delivery company.
“I was feeling pretty good and I was getting bored at my house,” he told the inquiry.
“I wanted to divert my mind.”
The man received his positive diagnosis the following day and self-isolated for 14 days.
Once the two weeks were over he resumed making food deliveries.
Just one day later, he was back in hospital, where he returned another positive test.
The guard told the inquiry the Department of Health and Human Services said he was allowed out “because it had been 14 days since my first positive test”.
“That week, I worked at my regular job at the warehouse. As far as I know, nobody at the warehouse contracted COVID-19,” he said.
The guard told the inquiry he was recruited via WhatsApp to work in hotel quarantine and was never trained in infection control or how to wear personal protective equipment.
He was first subcontracted by Silvans Security to work at the Marriott and Novotel hotels in mid-April, then he was subcontracted by SSG Security to work at the Rydges in May.
A few days after he began working at the Rydges hotel, he was told by a supervisor there was a shortage of PPE.
“He instructed me to put my mask and gloves in my pocket when I went for a break. He told me not to put my mask and gloves in my pocket in front of the hotel’s security cameras,” the man said in his submission.
The man said he saw other security guards smoking together, while others “put holes in their gloves so that they could use their mobile phones”.
His evidence contrasts with that of another security guard, who told the inquiry the program was “methodical and regimented – army-like”.
The guard was subcontracted by Nexar to work at the Pullman Hotel between May and June, and at an unnamed designated “hot hotel” for people infected coronavirus between June and July.
He said PPE was readily available at the hotels.
Professional athlete Kaan Ofli, meanwhile, spoke of how he and his partner felt “humiliated” while staying at the Pan Pacific hotel in April.
The couple were forced to “plead” with the DHHS for more food and water, until it was realised after 10 days that they had been served meals for just one person.
“The whole 10 days, I wasn’t actually in the system,” Mr Ofli said.
The mistake meant he had unknowingly eaten his partner’s meals, which were not Halal as he had requested.
“It hurt me … it was really disappointing,” he said.
The inquiry, headed by retired judge Jennifer Coate, will continue on Thursday.
Australian Associated Press