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Woman sets Covid quarantine hotel on fire

The blaze engulfed the top floor of the Pacific Hotel in the northeastern city of Cairns on Sunday morning, forcing an evacuation of more than 160 guests.

There were no injuries, but the damage to the building was “significant” and forced authorities to relocate people to other Covid-19 quarantine facilities.

Authorities said a 31-year-old woman lit a fire underneath her bed, after spending only a “couple of days” of the mandatory two-week quarantine inside the hotel after crossing to Queensland from another state. Before the incident she also reportedly had caused other unspecified troubles for the staff during her stay.

Her two children were taken under police protection, while the woman was charged with arson and willful damage, and was due to appear in court on Monday.

Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic Australia has recorded just around 2,000 deaths as it resorted to some of the world’s most draconian lockdown and quarantine measures, affecting not only international but also interstate travel, in a bid to keep the infections as low as possible until the majority of the population is vaccinated.

Just as the country was finally preparing to reopen borders to skilled migrants and students on December 1, first cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant were detected in travelers from southern Africa to Sydney, potentially derailing the plan.

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