Australia to build dedicated quarantine facility after Melbourne Covid-19 outbreak

As of Thursday afternoon, there had been 30,137 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Australia. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

CANBERRA (XINHUA) - The Australian government will fund a dedicated quarantine facility for returning travellers in Victoria after the second-most populous state, also the hardest-hit state by the Covid-19 pandemic, recently had in total more than 60 cases linked to the current outbreak.

The government's funding was reportedly at about A$200 million (S$204 million) according to local media on Friday (June 4), for the 500-bed facility, which might be built in either Mickleham in Melbourne's north or Avalon in the west.

It came after the Victorian government called for federal aid after recently extending the restrictions for the Melbourne area by a further seven days.

The Victorian government proposed the facility in April but said federal funding was needed to build it.

Construction is expected to start in September, and to be completed in January.

The facility will be used on top of hotel quarantine to repatriate Australian citizens and residents stranded overseas amid the pandemic.

Minister for Finance Simon Birmingham said on Thursday the decision to fund the facility was not an admission that hotel quarantine was insufficient.

Hotels have been used to quarantine international arrivals to Australia since March 2020 but breaches in the system have been responsible for several outbreaks of Covid-19 in the community.

"It's about creating additional capacity," he told Ten Network television.

"Fund the construction of it as a federal facility. Victoria will operate it, as they indicated in their announcement, and that it will provide additional places on top of hotel quarantine for returning Australians and essential travellers into our country."

As of Thursday afternoon, there had been 30,137 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Australia, and the numbers of locally and overseas acquired cases in the last 24 hours were three and five respectively, according to the latest figures updated on Thursday evening from the Department of Health.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.