Residents of a cluster of Sydney apartment buildings have been blinded by a decision to house COVID-19 patients at their complex as part of a makeshift “medi-hotel”.
- Meriton Suites is a five-star hotel being transformed into a special sanitary accommodation for the COVID-19 quarantine
- Residents of adjacent Meriton Macquarie residences say they found out via social media
- Local health district says recent spike in cases has resulted in urgent need
A woman who lives in the Meriton Macquarie Residences on Sydney’s North Shore said residents discovered the new quarantine facility via a social media post.
Starting next week, it will open in the Meriton Suites apartment building, close to the Meriton Macquarie Residences and across from the busy Macquarie Mall.
The Residences are a group of buildings housing around 200 people in luxury one and two bedroom apartments, located just behind the hotel.
In a Facebook post, Meriton said he was closing his hotel in North Ryde to provide community support quarantine – residents who saw the post then noticed the hotel was boarded up and asked for confirmation from the receptionist of the building.
In New South Wales, most returning overseas travelers spend two weeks in hotel quarantine, overseen by police.
If they test positive for COVID-19 but do not require hospitalization, they are transferred to a medi-hotel – also known as special sanitary accommodation – which is operated by medical professionals.
Medi-hotels are also being used to quarantine returning overseas travelers with special needs and people who cannot fully isolate themselves in the community.
The woman says residents were not consulted.
“As you can imagine, we are very concerned about the security protocols, as we have not seen a security or management plan or documentation outlining how the medi-hotel will proceed in the future”, a- she declared.
Residents held a meeting with NSW Health in the parking lot for an hour this week to voice concerns as the buildings share common assets including a parking lot and gardens.
In a letter to a resident seen by the ABC, the Sydney Local Health District (LHD) – which will operate the medi-hotel – confirmed that the facility will open.
The letter indicated that clear lines would be in place to separate the operations of the Meriton suites from other buildings on the site.
“Transmission of COVID-19 to occupants of other buildings in the complex via the air conditioning unit and water systems is not possible on the North Ryde property,” the letter said.
“Blocks A and D have their own air conditioning systems which are not shared with the other blocks in the complex.
“The water supply does not present a risk of infection. Wastewater contains a combination of detergents and disinfectants which are very effective in killing the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19 disease. ”
A spokeswoman for Sydney LHD said the facility opening this week was in response to a “recent increase” in positive COVID-19 cases in the community which had resulted in “an urgent need”.
It was just one of many similar sites across Sydney, she said, which had so far cared for 14,000 people without transmission of infection at any facility.
In the first year of the pandemic, NSW medi-hotels treated approximately 1,300 COVID-19 patients and more than 8,000 people who did not have the virus.
In March, Special Health Accommodation chief executive Joseph Jewitt described medi-hotels as “the cornerstone of the COVID-19 quarantine program in NSW.”
Meriton has been contacted for comment.