Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is confident in the state's overhauled hotel quarantine program, despite reports subcontracted staff were hurriedly stood down due to infection control concerns.
Staff from Spotless were replaced by police mid-shift on Wednesday at the Novotel in Southbank, after a healthcare worker told The Age she feared their practices would lead to further COVID-19 outbreaks.
The staff, subcontracted by Alfred Health, were acting as floor managers at the hotel, which is hosting people with COVID-19 who cannot safely isolate at home.
Victoria's hotel quarantine program was overhauled in June after private security guards caught the virus from returned travellers and spread it into the community.
An inquiry into the program has heard it was responsible for the state's second wave, which has killed more than 750 people.
The premier said the government had learnt from mistakes made in the first iteration of the program.
"I am confident that the arrangements we have in place are vastly different to those which we have all become very well aware of through the work of the board (of inquiry)," Mr Andrews told reporters on Thursday.
He said the workers were taken off shift as part of a "transition to a new set of arrangements that is unfolding".
"I can't for a moment stand here and say that the model that operates right now wouldn't change again," Mr Andrews said, noting the government is awaiting recommendations from the inquiry, due in November.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also flagged the possibility of allowing people to quarantine at home.
"All of those things are not yet settled. But I'm confident that that's a secure environment," Mr Andrews said.
Nine hotel quarantine workers have tested positive to COVID-19 since the overhaul, including five Spotless employees.
The state government maintains they didn't contract the virus at work.
The inquiry is investigating those nine infections.
In a statement, Alfred Health said Spotless was a "long term contract partner" providing specialised cleaning, and until Wednesday, "customer service and floor monitor roles".
"Spotless staff were not employed in security roles in hotel quarantine," a spokesperson said.
Victoria Police said they have had a presence at quarantine hotels since July 17, including at the Novotel since September 28.
They will keep an around the clock presence at the Novotel.
Victoria recorded 15 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and a grim milestone of 800 deaths.
The latest victims were two female aged care residents, aged in their 70s and 90s and it brings the national toll from the virus to 888.
Of the 15 new cases, seven are linked to known outbreaks, while eight remain under investigation.
Authorities remain concerned about a cluster at Chadstone shopping centre, which has grown to eight people and includes a family in Frankston.
Anyone who visited the centre, particularly the fresh food precinct, the Butcher Club and Coles last week, has been urged to be on alert for any COVID-19 symptoms.
A testing site will open at the shopping centre on Thursday.
Meanwhile, a second wastewater test in Anglesea has detected traces of COVID-19.
Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng called on the community to continue to come forward for testing.
There are 289 active cases across the state - the last time the state had fewer than 300 active cases was June 29.
Melbourne's 14-day average, meanwhile, is down to 15.6 and there have been just 19 mystery cases recorded in the two weeks between September 15 and 28.
The average needs to drop below five and there must be fewer than five mystery cases in a fortnight before Melbourne further eases restrictions.
The premier expects this to happen by October 19, a week earlier than scheduled.
"People can be rightly optimistic and hopeful about October 19," he said.
"We've just got to find that within ourselves, despite the challenges, despite the frustration, which is a perfectly understandable thing."
Australian Associated Press