A Sunshine Coast toddler who had open-heart surgery in Sydney will be able to recover at home after the Queensland government backed down and granted her family an exemption to border restrictions.
Two-year-old Luella Gilliland’s parents had applied for an exemption to return to Queensland and self-isolate at home, but the state health department rejected the initial application as they didn’t meet the threshold for exemption.
“They wouldn’t put a toddler recovering from open-heart surgery … in hotel isolation,” mother Laurren told the ABC on Saturday, saying she “thought it would be a no-brainer” to be allowed to isolate at home.
“I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive the Queensland government for the momentous stress they’ve caused our family during what has already been a traumatic time,” she posted on Facebook on Sunday.
Luella had scheduled life-saving surgery at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital last week, as the Palaszczuk government shut Queensland’s borders to NSW.
Queensland authorities backed down on Sunday, granting the Gillilands permission to let their young daughter recover at home.
“Common sense has prevailed! We’re are going home to self isolate,” Ms Gilliland said.
On Monday, state chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said Luella was “of course, allowed back into Queensland”.
“She’s a Queensland citizen, as are her parents. So she was always allowed back in. Her initial request didn’t convince me that she – her parents – understood the necessity for quarantine.
“She must be quarantined with her family … because they now fully understand that necessity and my concerns, so they have agreed to go into their home and to quarantine and we got a lot of support in place to ensure that happens,” Dr Young said.
Earlier, the family had been advised in a rejection letter to wait to travel until you can “safely quarantine”.
“The chief health officer has reviewed your letter and the information provided … and has suggested you wait to travel until you are able to safely quarantine,” the letter read, according to the ABC.
Ms Gilliland said her daughter just wanted to go home, was not coping and was emotional.
“She’s having night terrors, she’s still very emotional, obviously asking, ‘When can we go home?’,” she told the ABC.
“She’s reached her coping abilities for a toddler who has just gone through a traumatic event such as open-heart surgery.”
At the weekend, Queensland Health issued a statement saying exemptions to border restrictions were uncommon, despite one being given to singer Dannii Minogue and to Brisbane Broncos coach Anthony Seibold, when he returned from time in Sydney.
“Exemptions are rarely granted, and usually only in exceptional circumstances,” Queensland Health said.
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington pleaded the family’s case in a letter to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Saturday.
Govt scrambles to contain youth centre COVID cluster
Meanwhile, Queensland authorities expanded a public health alert from 40 to 67 venues, as the number of COVID-19 cases linked to the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre continues to grow.
So far, 202 staff and 111 inmates have returned negative results and 10 cases have been linked to the facility at Wacol. The most recent was confirmed on Monday morning, and is in a family member of a detention centre staff member.
It was Queensland’s sole new case in the past 24 hours.
All 130 young people at the detention centre have been tested, while 16 of its 500 staff are yet to be checked, Dr Young said.
Police are continuing to trace 92 children released from the facility since July 22. Half of them will also be tested for COVID.
“I’m being really, really cautious here. I think most of those are not a risk,” Dr Young said.
The detention centre’s staff will be replaced with an all-new workforce by the middle of this week.
Department of Youth Justice director-general Bob Gee last week announced more than 100 staff and additional officers from police and corrective services will come on board as the centre’s staff go into quarantine.
There are 18 active cases in the state with about 6300 COVID-19 tests conducted in the past 24 hours.
Health Minister Steven Miles said more testing was needed and encouraged more people to get themselves checked.
“It’s very critical over the next seven to 14 days, if you have any symptoms whatsoever, please go and get tested.”