Australia

Queensland to raise hotel detention coronavirus concerns with Federal Government

Refugees and asylum seekers detained at a Brisbane hotel fear the spread of COVID-19. Source: SBS

Annastacia Palaszczuk says she'll speak with the Federal Government about the safety of immigration detainees staying at a hotel in Brisbane where a guard who tested positive to coronavirus worked.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says she will talk with the Federal Government about the safety of immigration detainees and staff staying at a Brisbane hotel that has been flagged as a potential coronavirus hotspot.

Concern among more than 80 detainees at the Kangaroo Point Central Hotel has been heightened after a guard employed by contractor Serco tested positive to coronavirus last month.

The refugees and asylum seekers have been holding daily protests urging their release, with infectious disease experts and United Nations officials backing the call. 

In a statement, the Department of Home Affairs told SBS News that “infection control plans are in place” and “no detainees across the immigration detention network have tested positive to COVID-19".

Detainees say following the 1.5-metre social distancing requirement is impossible in the close confines of the hotel.

Ms Palaszczuk said she would raise the issue with the Federal Government. 

"I'm not happy with the situation and I'll talk to the Federal Government, because the refugee issue is one for the Federal Government - and I am happy to raise it with them," she told reporters on Sunday morning.

"Also, we'll be speaking at length about backpackers. We've had some backpackers who have been turned back at the borders and we've had cases where backpackers have been trying to come over on buses across NSW borders."

The spread of coronavirus appears to be flattening in Queensland, with only nine new confirmed cases confirmed on Sunday, taking the state's total to 907.

It is the fourth day in a row that the number of people infected with the virus has fallen.

Four Queenslanders have died and 56 people remain in hospital. Eight are in intensive care wards, with six requiring ventilators.

The majority of new cases continued to be from Australians returning from overseas.

Ms Palaszczuk urged Queenslanders to adhere to social distancing, particularly at crowded fresh food markets. 

"On Saturday we saw crowds at markets and, guys, it's not on," she said.

"If I see that happen again, they're going to be shut down immediately because people are not observing social distancing from each other."

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

Additional reporting by Biwa Kwan.

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