Australia’s government of Victoria will close its $580 million (US$376 million) quarantine hub after eight months of operation as COVID-19 cases drop.
In February, the Victorian government launched a dedicated quarantine facility in Mickleham, a northern suburb of Melbourne, to accommodate international travelers and local residents.
However, it only served 2,168 quarantined patients before shutting down in the week starting Oct. 10.
$580 million quarantine hub
The hub was built with federal funding, but the Victorian government was responsible for operating the site.
On average, each quarantine patient costs Australian taxpayers more than $267,000.
The Victorian government lobbied for months to build the facility before receiving permission from the former Morrison government in June 2021.
The construction cost was originally estimated at $200 million, later revised to $580 million.
Other quarantine hubs in Brisbane and Perth, which were formerly federally approved, are now also closed.
Mickleham’s facilities are: criticism Shortly after opening the quarantine hub, the Victorian government removed the quarantine requirement for international arrivals.
The state government then repurposed the facility to house people who had COVID-19 but were unable to self-quarantine at home.
Victoria’s Police Minister Anthony Carvins said the facility had served its purpose as COVID-19 cases fell after the latest Omicron wave.
“Its closure is another step in recovery from the pandemic.” He said.
“Australia needed these facilities before the pandemic first hit, but this important facility now offers accommodation as insurance against future pandemics or in emergencies such as natural disasters. We exist to provide.”
Staff at the facility will have to find other jobs, and some will continue to work on closing the site before it is handed over to the federal government on January 1, 2023.
In addition, Victoria’s Quarantine Agency will transfer its remaining functions to the Department of Justice and Community Safety and cease operations in early 2023.
on the other hand, Opposite Victorian If the state wins the November election, it has pledged to repurpose 250 beds at the Mickleham facility to accommodate non-acute patients to reduce pressure on the state’s health care system.
Opposition health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier said the coalition would not leave facilities unused.
“It’s lazy to padlock Mickleham,” she said.