Professional mixed martial arts fighter Kaan Ofli was quarantined at central Melbourne’s Pan Pacific hotel from April 9 to 23 with his partner.
Ofli told the Victorian COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry that their appeals for a CCP virus test were declined because neither of them was showing symptoms.
“We personally asked for a test, we wanted to get tested … we were told we weren’t allowed to have a test unless we had symptoms,” he said.
Ofli was told by a security guard that there was a floor at the hotel dedicated to people who had tested positive for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.
During air breaks returnees would interact with each other without wearing personal protective equipment and not keeping 1.5 meters apart, Ofli said.
“People were obviously cautious of the virus itself so I’m not going to say people were hugging each other.”
Ofli and his partner requested tests on day 10, the same day he discovered he wasn’t registered at the hotel.
Ofli told the inquiry, “The whole 10 days, I wasn’t actually in the system.”
This was due to an error by the Department of Human Health Services. For 10 days they had to keep calling for basic food and drink needs.
“I would feel embarrassed about calling and be like, ‘Hey, can I get another meal or can I get another piece of bread roll or can I have a bottle of water?” he said.
The Victorian government’s policy up until late June was to only test people showing symptoms. From June 27 Premier Daniel Andrews announced mandatory testing for all returnees before leaving hotel quarantine after it was revealed some had refused to be tested.
Under the state of emergency ruling, the Victorian government was able to enforce a 10-day extension to quarantine for those refusing to be tested.
Victoria’s Hotel Quarantine Inquiry was launched on July 2 by Andrews after it emerged from an epidemiology report that a “significant portion” of CCP virus cases came from the program.
Benjamin Peter Howden, director of the Microbiological Diagnostic Unit at the University of Melbourne, told the inquiry that three strains of the CCP virus had been detected since June, and each had been linked to returnees.
“A high-level statement would be that over 99 percent of all current cases in Victoria for which we have genomic sequencing data are derived from” those three strains, he said.
Since June 1, around the time of the first case at the Rydges on Swanston, there have been 16,966 cases of the CCP virus and 412 deaths in Victoria.
National figures show there have been 24,916 cases and 517 deaths.