A security guard at Melbourne’s Rydges on Swanston hotel who contracted coronavirus received no infection control training and wasn’t clear on his obligation to tell his superiors if he felt unwell, an inquiry has heard.

The man, whose identity has been suppressed by Victoria’s hotel quarantine inquiry, said on Monday he had a sore throat and runny nose three to four hours into an overnight shift but finished working in the early hours of the morning.

He said he saw a public health billboard while driving home, which prompted him to get a test at a hospital later that day. After he felt better in the evening, the guard said he went on to do several deliveries.

The inquiry heard that the man then received a positive test the next day and was instructed to self-isolate, according to a witness statement that redacted the dates of the events.

Under questioning from counsel assisting, Ben Ihle, the guard said he had not been told about his obligations to report any symptoms to his superiors.

Asked why he had continued working as a guard that day, he said: “I thought it was a common cold.”

Asked why he went out to do the deliveries, he said: “I was feeling pretty good and I was getting bored at my house. I wanted to divert my mind.”

The man was first hired by Silvans Security Pty Ltd to work at the Marriott and Novotel hotels in mid-April and was paid $26 an hour.

In May, he was subcontracted to SSG Security to work at Rydges, though Unified Security was responsible overall for security at the site.

There was minimal screening for the job and training upon recruitment, the inquiry heard.

The guard noted in previous employment he was required to meet the employer in-person, sign paperwork, and provide hard copies of his identity papers. None of that occurred in this case.

The inquiry heard the guard worked at several sites within the quarantine program, at times with insufficient PPE. He said staff were sometimes given only one pair of gloves and a single mask for an entire 12-hour shift due to a shortage.

At the Rydges hotel, he said he was told by a supervisor to put his mask and gloves in his pocket when he took them off, but not to do so in front of hotel security cameras.

He also told the hearing he had seen other guards in the break room with symptoms such as runny noses and sore throats.

After testing positive, the man said he went into isolation for 14 days.

Towards the end of his isolation, the guard said he began to feel better and resumed work as a delivery driver following the isolation period.

But Covid-19 symptoms returned. Soon after the 14 days, the guard began feeling severe shortness of breath and went to hospital where he was given Ventolin.

The guard tested positive for Covid-19 again, but claimed the Department of Health and Human Services informed him he did not have to continue isolating.

“That week, I worked at my regular job,” he said in a witness statement.

No evidence was given that the guard infected other people.

About 90% of cases in the state since May originated at Rydges, while 10% were traced to the Stamford hotel, the inquiry heard last week.

On Monday, the inquiry heard several other allegations about the administration of the hotel quarantine program , which has been blamed for Victoria’s second wave.

Earlier on Monday, the inquiry heard from Kaan Ofli, who learned 10 days into his stay at the Pan Pacific that the room he shared with his partner was only registered to one person.

The couple had only been receiving one meal for the two people, prompting what Ofli said was a “humiliating” experience of having to call the Department of Health and Human Services to “plead for the basics”.

He also told the inquiry the couple’s request to be tested had been denied because they did not have symptoms, meaning they left quarantine without being tested.

Ofli, a professional MMA fighter, said 10 days into the stay he was made aware his name wasn’t on the authorities’ list of guests following a call from a nurse.

Ofli told the inquiry he had also requested halal food, but was shocked to learn 10 days into his stay that the meat he had been eating did not meet these requirements. “It hurt me,” he said.

The inquiry will continue on Thursday when it turns to the role of the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions in the hotel quarantine program.



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