A lawyer defending those held at a Melbourne hotel with patients infected with COVID-19 has told a court their lives are in danger.
Daniel Taylor has asked the Federal Circuit Court for an urgent injunction to prevent Australian Border Force officials from preventing paramedics from assessing detainees if ambulances are called.
ABF confirmed this week that there has been an outbreak of infections at the Park Hotel, an alternative place of detention.
As of Wednesday morning, 13 out of 46 inmates had tested positive, eight were awaiting results and 25 had tested negative.
“It’s just not fair to treat them like prisoners prone to coronavirus infection as part of punishment,” Taylor said, also calling for the evacuation of the hotel.
Judge Rolf Driver noted that there was precedent for keeping people together in buildings during the COVID-19 outbreak, highlighting the Melbourne Tower being locked.
âYou can debate the good and the bad about it, but it happens in the community,â he said.
The court heard that Jane Alcorn, a lawyer for infected detainee Ahmad Zahir Azizi, called an ambulance for him on Thursday morning.
“They went to the hotel but were not allowed to enter. The nurse told her never to call the ambulance again,” she said.
This request was rejected by ABF lawyer Claire Roberts, who said the ambulance called for Mr Azizi had not yet arrived at the hotel.
She said ambulances had been called for other detainees, including one who was taken to hospital.
Medical staff had determined that Mr. Azizi did not need to be hospitalized, but when paramedics arrived, they would be allowed to do their own assessment. She made a commitment to the court that he would be assessed by paramedics.
“There are a lot of people calling for ambulances right now and he is not rated (by Ambulance Victoria) as someone in great need, which may be why the ambulance is putting a bit of time to get there, âshe said.
Mr Taylor also wants the court to order the hotel to be an unsafe environment and for COVID-negative inmates to be transferred to an outside facility.
“Keeping them there simply puts them at an extremely high and unacceptable risk of infection and death,” he said.
The case is due to return to court on Tuesday.
Australian Associated Press