A terminally ill Queensland father may finally get his dying wish to see his four Sydney children amid calls for compassion over COVID-19 border restrictions.
Queensland is expected to grant border passes to the NSW-based children of Mark Keans, all aged under 13, in an exception to the sunshine state’s hardline policies.
A GoFundMe campaign started late on Thursday night quickly raised more than $200,000 to help cover the cost of two weeks’ quarantine for the children, far exceeding the fundraising target of $30,000.
It comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison personally intervened in the case of Canberra woman Sarah Caisip who had been fighting to see her terminally ill father before he died.
Mr Keans, who has terminal brain cancer, had been facing the heartbreaking decision about which of his children he would say goodbye to after health officials denied all but one an exemption to see him.
The 39-year-old was cut off from his four Sydney-based children by the state’s COVID-19 health restrictions.
But an agreement is expected to be finalised on Friday permitting the family to reunite, with Queensland Health telling AAP overnight Thursday they have been working closely with Mr Keans’ family to finalise a formal agreement.
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AAP was told multiple members of Mr Keans’ family made exemption applications for a visit that were under consideration by Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young.
“Queensland’s current border restrictions are in place for one purpose – to save lives,” a health spokeswoman said.
“Health directions in place are strict, but they are designed to protect Queenslanders from COVID-19.”
A friend of the family, Jamie O’Brien thanked the public for the outpouring of support which had raised money to cover the high cost of two weeks’ quarantine in an approved hotel.
“Honestly cannot thank everyone enough for all the generous donations,” he wrote on GoFundMe.
“Mark’s family are so very appreciative and this will take the financial burden off of their shoulders so now they focus solely on Mark.”
Such heartbreaking cases have sparked a political firestorm over strict border rules, with the Prime Minister calling on states to show compassion as families are cut off from one another across state lines.
Mr Morrison angered Qld’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk when he personally intervened in the case of Canberra woman Sarah Caisip who had been prevented from seeing her terminally ill father in Queensland.
Ms Caisip had hoped to travel to Brisbane last week to visit her dad Bernard Prendergast, who was dying of terminal cancer but was forced into two weeks’ quarantine.
Mr Prendergast died this week, and Ms Caisip’s request for an exemption from quarantine to attend his funeral was denied.
However she was given permission to privately view his body and was dressed from head to toe in virus protective gear when saying her final farewell.
“My dad is dead and you made me fight to see him, but it was too late and now you won’t let me go to his funeral,” she wrote to Ms Palaszczuk.
Under Queensland’s health measures all of NSW, the ACT and Victoria are considered virus hotspots.
Earlier, Dr Young told reporters exemptions are regularly given for people to come to Queensland to see dying relatives or close friends.
“But they need to come into quarantine if they come from hotspots,” she said.
On Wednesday Ms Palaszczuk came under fire when it was revealed US actor Tom Hanks had been granted permission to quarantine privately.