Saturday, June 27, 2020

Quarantine testing

Wamberal beach this morning
It was disturbing to hear yesterday that international travellers arriving in Australia, who are required to spend two weeks quarantined in hotels policed by the authorities, have been allowed to leave quarantine at the end of their stay without ever being tested for COVID-19.  Apparently, to date, 30% of those leaving quarantine in Victoria have refused to be tested.  That's 5,400 people.  New South Wales data, where all travellers have been tested prior to release since mid-May, show that 0.5% of those tested have COVID-19.  Although not statistically valid, applying that rate to the 5,400 released without test in Victoria, suggests 27 infectious people have been released into the community.

It's not hard to understand why people in quarantine might refuse to be tested.  Having just spent weeks confined to a hotel room, they do not want to be condemned to another two weeks there by a positive test.  It's also not hard to see how this creates a significant loophole in the system.  A couple may arrive from overseas, with one infected by COVID-19, but asymptomatic.  During their two weeks in quarantine, the asymptomatic person may infect their partner, who if undiagnosed, may be infectious when they leave quarantine.

Looking towards Terrigal this morning
I haven't been a fan of Monday morning quarterbacks who criticise errors made by the authorities with respect to managing the pandemic.  But the decision made to not test people before they leave quarantine just does not pass the "pub test".  I accept there may be legal problems associated with forcing people to undergo invasive medical checks, but there are ways around it, as has been demonstrated by the belated decision to impose an additional ten days of quarantine on those refusing to undergo the test prior to release.

Who knows whether anybody released from quarantine has managed to infect others in Australia, but like many, I assumed that travellers would be tested on arrival and again before release.  It's common sense, with no apparent downsides.

After a week of only cycling for exercise, I walked 5km in pre-dawn drizzle this morning returning along the Wamberal surf beach before spending another 30 minutes on the bike trainer.  The hip flexor discomfort was still evident while walking, but better than a week ago.  I'm still anxious about how the hip will hold up once we start our cycling trip.  I'm guessing there is a 75% probability that it will be manageable, but that is only a guess.

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