Australian official under police guard over virus measures
An Australian health official revealed on Monday that she has been under police guard because of death threats and growing public anger over pandemic border restrictions.
Queensland state Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said she now traveled with a police escort because of the threats.
“It has taken an enormous toll on me, but then this has taken an enormous toll on nearly every single person in our community,” Young told reporters.
“Every single person in our community in Queensland has had to give up an awful lot and we can’t see a clear end to this so we’re going to all have to work this through together,” she added.
The Queensland state government has been under mounting criticism for making travelers spend two weeks in hotel quarantine when they cross the state border from other parts of Australia. The restrictions have led to a number of high-profile incidents, including one last week in which a woman was not allowed out of quarantine to attend her father’s funeral.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk blamed Young for that case, which the national government used to ramp up pressure on the state government to relax its border restrictions.
The woman, Sarah Caisip, had wanted to reach her father’s death bed but didn’t get a permit to travel from her home in Canberra until two days after he died. Canberra has not had a coronavirus case in more than two months.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison had made a personal appeal to Palaszczuk on the day of the funeral for Caisip to be allowed to attend, an approach that the state premier described as “intimidation” and “bullying.”
Brisbane lawyer James Stevens took up the campaign again Palaszczuk on Sunday by paying for a plane to fly to state capital Brisbane from neighbouring Gold Coast towing a banner that said: “SHE IS HEARTLESS.”
Stevens said he was prepared to fly the banner every week until Palaszczuk’s government seeks re-election on October 31.
“I’m not political,” Stevens told Australian Broadcasting Corporation from a Brisbane hotel room where he is in quarantine following a trip from Sydney. “But this has got to stop.” “She has exhibited a real callousness, a cold-hearted attitude to people’s suffering and problems,” Stevens said.
Public anger also focused last week on the case of Brisbane cancer patient Mark Kearns. The 39-year-old’s sister, Tamara Langborne, said the family had been told last week that only one of his four children would be allowed to cross the border from New South Wales to visit him.
His mother Rhonda Langborne said Queensland health authorities had since relented. Kearns’ children, their mother, his siblings and parents would all be allowed to cross the border next weekend.
They would all be held in hotel quarantine except when they visit Kearns while wearing full personal protective equipment.