Victoria's hotel quarantine program has restarted for a third time, as the state government ramps up its vaccination program despite not receiving the latest allocation of doses.
Sri Lankan Airlines flight UL604 from Colombo touched down at 4.22am on Thursday, with its 11 passengers taken by bus to the InterContinental on Collins Street in Melbourne's CBD, where they will remain for a fortnight.
A total of 106 passengers are expected to arrive on Thursday, with other flights scheduled to land from Doha, Dubai and Singapore. All will be staying at either the InterContinental or the Holiday Inn near Melbourne Airport.
The Novotel Ibis Melbourne Central, Pan Pacific, Holiday Inn on Flinders and Element Melbourne Richmond are also ready for use after ventilation works.
The Holiday Inn on Flinders Street will function as a "health hotel", taking travellers who test positive to COVID-19, while the Element Melbourne Richmond will take guests with medical conditions and complex needs.
Ventilation assessments are also underway at a further six hotels.
The state hasn't accepted returned travellers since February 13 after workers contracted the UK COVID strain from guests at the Holiday Inn.
The outbreak, which grew to 24 cases, triggered a statewide five-day lockdown.
Victoria's deadly second wave last year also leaked from hotel quarantine and led to a judicial review and overhaul of the program.
Under the latest changes, returned travellers will be tested four times, have their mealtimes staggered and large family groups will be spaced out to reduce the risk of aerosol transmission.
Hotel quarantine staff have all received at least one dose of the Pzifer vaccine, while 46 per cent have received their second. The majority have also undergone N95 mask fit testing.
It comes as Acting Premier James Merlino and Health Minister Martin Foley on Thursday announced a target of 300,000 vaccination doses by May 16.
Almost 130,000 doses have already been administered by the state to workers in healthcare, hotel quarantine, emergency services and public sector aged care.
Mr Merlino said the state could assist the federal government in vaccinating people aged over 70.
"But that's a decision that the Commonwealth needs to make, and we need to make it in a nationally consistent way," he said.
Two new vaccine hubs will be established at the Royal Showgrounds and the Mercure Convention Centre in Ballarat to help reach the new target.
Community vaccination centres will also be set up in Broadmeadows, Deer Park, Lilydale, Prahran and West Melbourne for public housing residents included in phase 1a and 1b.
Four million Australians were due to have jabs by the end of March, a target missed by more than 3.3 million, with the federal government blaming a lack of supply.
Mr Foley said he did not know how many vaccines have been administered in Victoria by the Commonwealth.
Infectious diseases expert Ben Cowie, who is advising the Victorian government on the vaccine rollout, said the state had been promised 40,000 doses this week.
"Unfortunately, I don't believe that they've been delivered as yet," he said.
Professor Cowie said more than three-quarters of health workers in phase 1a have been vaccinated, while every public aged care facility will be visited within the fortnight for residents to receive their first dose.
Victoria recorded no new local cases for the 41st consecutive day on Thursday, following 13,291 tests.
Australian Associated Press
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