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Australia surpasses 10,000 but celebrities exempt from quarantine

14-07-2020

Bureau Report

SYDNEY/ MELBOURNE: Australia’s hotel quarantine system is under fire for giving celebrities exemptions to the mandatory 14-day hotel isolation while refusing critically ill and pregnant Australians.

Popstar Dannii Minogue is the latest high-profile arrival exempted from hotel quarantine.

The news comes just a day after A Current Affair reported on Stephen Evans, a New South Wales man returning from emergency life-saving cancer surgery in Germany.

With a severely compromised immune system, doctors say he should be self-isolating at home. Instead he’s locked up in a Sydney hotel, having had his application for an exemption denied three times.

“I’ve had information from doctors and letters from doctors and all three times they’ve said ‘no,'” Evans told A Current Affair.

Yet when pop princess Dannii Minogue flew in from the United States of all places, she was spared what some have described as hotel quarantine hell.

Likewise, billionaire Kerry Stokes avoided the mandatory procedure when he flew back in April. Instead, both big names were able to quarantine on their own terms.

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Doctor Jeanette Young today explained Dannii Minogue isn’t the only one avoiding hotel quarantine, insisting there is “no special treatment” for the rich and famous.

“There are a large number of different groups who have exemptions to hotel quarantine. For instance: consular officials, ADF personnel, people who work in the oil and gas industry who meet certain requirements,” Dr Young said.

High profile Australians are also able to meet the said requirements if they have a COVID-safe plan in place that is deemed acceptable to health authorities.

“I believe I have given 38 such exemptions to date for mandatory hotel quarantine… but they need to then quarantine in another place that I am satisfied adheres to the same requirements,” Dr Young said.

Australian Asheligh-Rose Jeppesen was 15 weeks pregnant when she entered mandatory hotel quarantine in Melbourne. She’d been travelling in Europe and couldn’t get access to healthcare there so headed home thinking she’d be well looked after.

“They didn’t really check on you, I couldn’t go for a walk, I was Vitamin D deficient. The (walk) they did offer me was 8pm,” Ms Jeppesen told A Current Affair.

During her time in hotel quarantine, she couldn’t get a scan done and the one blood test performed was mislabeled.

After release, a scan discovered her baby had a neural defect so severe her pregnancy had to be terminated.

Her partner is American and despite having a valid visa, he isn’t allowed to enter Australia to grieve with her.

“If you’re a celebrity and you have money, you’re fine but if you’re just a normal person… just trying to do right thing, you’re just put in a big lump of people they don’t care about,” she said.

Ms Jeppesen described herself as “absolutely disgusted” by the quarantine double standard.

“It seems like there’s one rule for celebrities and another for the rest of us.”

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