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It seems clear now that many of the recent “escapes” of COVID into the Australian community have come from infected persons in quarantine in hotels passing on COVID to staff or other quarantining people.

Recent news and medical studies would seem to point at a few root causes

  • Poor work practices in the early days
  • COVID escaping via airborne transmission from infected rooms into corridors through poor ventilation systems 

The latter is an area where IoT can play a major role. Given any project to build a new quarantine facility will take years and, according to Victorian State Government, cost approx. $200 million for 500 rooms (that works out to $400k per room before running costs)  it is clear that, even if just for the short term, we need to ensure that the hotel facilities are fit for use.

One easy and low-cost measure is to monitor air-pressure within hotel rooms versus the outside corridor.  A simple wirelessly connected sensor (cellular or other) capable of measuring differential air pressure both in a room and outside in corridor would quickly alarm the quarantine operation of any issues where air from a room is being pushed into the corridor. 

This is not a hard complex exercise.  The sensors exist – a local Melbourne company, Ellenex, offers a cellular enabled product to do exactly this. A system to record the data and escalate issues is readily available and  can easily be integrated into government health and quarantine systems.  

I’m sure we all want to see Australians allowed to come home in the next 6 months and that means more people in hotel quarantine as we are far away from having dedicated facilities. I’m equally sure we don’t want to see more outbreaks in the community from the hotel programs.  

For a small investment now existing IoT hardware and services can be used to give us confidence that the hotel rooms are fit for purpose and to alert for any problems before people get infected. Such a use of IoT will help reduce escapes of the virus and allow more citizens home.

Daryl Chamber

Director at M2M Connectivity

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