Western Australia’s health minister has defended the state’s COVID-19 rules after a Queensland woman was prevented from attending her mother’s funeral in Perth because of restrictions that came into effect while she was mid-air.
WA on Friday reintroduced a hard border for all of Queensland after a highly-contagious UK coronavirus strain was detected in Greater Brisbane.
All passengers arriving on flights from Queensland before the midnight deadline were required to enter 14 days of self-isolation.
Sydney radio station 2GB reported that one passenger had made an emergency flight from Brisbane to Perth that day after the death of her mother.
The restrictions came into effect during the woman’s flight and she was subsequently held for hours at Perth Airport after landing.
She was later able to view her mother’s body, but not attend the funeral.
Health Minister Roger Cook described it as a very sad story, adding that he had been briefed by WA Police who said they had not been aware of the woman’s situation.
“The situation in Queensland was we had a potential outbreak of the new UK strain of the disease, we didn’t know how that was going to behave,” he told Perth radio 6PR on Wednesday.
“We needed to move quickly and decisively, and we’ve done this on a number of occasions in order to make sure that we get on top of any potential risks to Western Australia from the disease.
“We obviously regret any inconvenience, or in this case the distressing situation.”
Mr Cook said there were three flights from Queensland that day and there had been long delays at the airport while passengers were processed.
He said he would seek more details about the incident.
“It’s very sad and it’s very difficult,” he said.
“So far we’ve had about nine months since community spread of the disease in Western Australia and that’s been on the back of making some difficult decisions.”
Chief health officer Andy Robertson has confirmed WA’s hard border to Queensland will remain for at least a fortnight, citing the need to identify any undetected community cases after Greater Brisbane emerged from a three-day lockdown.
A hard border also remains in place with NSW and Victoria.