Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles has rejected claims the state denied a northern NSW woman healthcare, resulting in the death of an unborn twin.
A Ballina woman pregnant with twins wanted to give birth in Brisbane on Thursday but was told by northern NSW health officials she would have to go into 14-day hotel quarantine under Queensland’s COVID-19 border rules.
The expectant mother decided to fly to Sydney after consulting specialists at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, where one of the twins became anaemic and died during the birth.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday said the incident was “terribly distressing” and called on Queensland to explain.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, who broke ranks with his own government to call for borders to be reopened, accused Queensland authorities of electioneering ahead of the state’s October poll.
“Borders were put in place by Queensland and other states to protect life and in this case it did the opposite,” he told Sunrise on Saturday.
“The popularity, mainly within Queensland, of having tough, strict borders is trumping common sense. When it comes to health, there should be no borders.”
But Mr Miles on Saturday told reporters he found the attacks from the Queensland LNP and interstate and federal rivals “disgusting”.
He says the state’s border declarations very clearly did not apply to those seeking emergency health care or those accompanying someone seeking it.
“This last 24 hours, watching politicians use this tragic event to further their political arguments, it’s left me feeling sick.”
“Frankly, Scott Morrison should spend a bit more time on the things he’s responsible for like international borders, like aged care, like supporting the Victorian government in their response, and a bit less time lecturing those states that so far have done a very good job of keeping on top of COVID.”
He said he would write to the NSW health minister on Saturday to ask him to clarify the issue with all NSW hospitals.
“Our hospitals and our aeromedical evacuation services save lives every single day and there are no borders that restricts them saving those lives.”
“If there’s a communication problem south of the border, I want to fix it.”
Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young admitted on Friday it was taking her too long to weed through a flood of applications for medical exemptions to identify and process genuine cases.
“I believe I am a compassionate person but at this point in time we are working through the process. All of these exemptions come to me and I work through them,” she said.
“That’s not sustainable because we are getting so many requests now, we are getting very large numbers of requests, particularly from Victorians who want to come up to Queensland because they don’t want to remain in lockdown.”