The opening of a new dedicated COVID-19 medi-hotel in the heart of Adelaide has caused angst among some nearby residents and business owners, despite health authorities saying it poses no significant risk to the general public.

Key points:

  • The Tom’s Court medi-hotel opened its doors on Monday
  • Nearby residents are concerned about the location and lack of consultation
  • SA Health says the hotel is well-placed to manage the risk of transmission

The Tom’s Court medi-hotel, located off Halifax Street in Adelaide’s CBD, is now open for returned travellers who test positive to COVID-19.

The hotel was commissioned by the State Government in the wake of November’s Parafield cluster, which was sparked by a COVID-19 leak from the Peppers Hotel.

The government signed an agreement for the medi-hotel to run for six months, with the option to extend.

There will be no private security guards — only SA Health and SA Police staff — and the building features “hospital-grade standard ventilation”.

“Whilst we can’t have negative pressure rooms, which is what we have at the Royal Adelaide, we have made sure that the cycles and fresh-air intake do meet those requirements, so we feel very confident in the ventilation standards,” Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr Emily Kirkpatrick said.

The 72-bed hotel will also be used to house South Australians, should there be a local outbreak of the coronavirus.

Local business owner shares his concern

For 45 years, Andy Parisi has run La Trattoria restaurant on King William Street.

The proximity of the medi-hotel to his restaurant has him worried, with Tom’s Court located just 20 metres from the back of his business.

Andy Parisi has run the Italian restaurant La Trattoria on King William Street in the Adelaide CBD for 45 years.(ABC News)

“I’m concerned … they say COVID can come out of even the air-conditioner vent, and I’m not sure if they’ve got enough good filters,” Mr Parisi said.

Mr Parisi said he was disappointed that there had not been any consultation between the State Government and local business owners or residents.

“They didn’t say nothing to us,” Mr Parisi said.

“We even sent a letter to the Premier complaining about it … if anything happens and there is an outbreak, what’s going to happen to us, who’s going to pay for my restaurant, who’s going to pay for my employees?”

Jonathan Saw is concerned about the proximity of Adelaide’s dedicated medi-hotel to his home.(ABC News)

Jonathan Saw, who lives near the medi-hotel said the plans had left him feeling uneasy.

“It’s still a risk, it’s too close to me,” Mr Saw said.

He said he only found out that Tom’s Court would be housing COVID-19 patients through media reports.

“Just a mailbox drop would have been nice,” Mr Saw said.

“There’s been a lot of work and noise … it’s a residential area, but it doesn’t feel like it anymore.”

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier told an Adelaide University forum today that she was comfortable with the public health controls at Tom’s Court medi-hotel, although it was impossible to eliminate all risk.

“You can never get the risk down to zero, okay, because you’ve got infectious people there, and it’s always possible that you can have an incursion,” she told the forum.

“[But] one of the things I like about Tom’s Court is the rooms have got cooking facilities and a fridge … that means that we can stock that room up for the person.

“The door won’t be opening and closing as much … every time the door opens and closes means that you’ve got a risk of transmission.”

She added that the hotel rooms were fitted with laser sensors so that any movement could be monitored by CCTV, reducing the risk of transmission to staff patrolling the corridors.

SA Health has also been contacted for comment.