Queensland health authorities have rejected a desperate bid from a man wanting to leave quarantine to visit his dying mother.
Marko Marttila arrived in Brisbane on Friday and pleaded with authorities to be allowed to temporarily leave hotel quarantine to spend a few hours with his dying mum, according to reporting from The Courier-Mail.
But health minister Yvette D‘Ath said the request to isolate at the family home had been rejected.
“It is very difficult and it has been throughout the period of dealing with COVID in having to make these decisions in relation to people’s loved ones and wanting to visit them when they are terminally ill,” she told reporters on Saturday morning.
“These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, and on this occasion it has been assessed that the exemption is not granted.
“Of course, (Queensland) Health will do everything they can to find other ways that there can be communication between this individual and his mother while he is quarantining.”
Mr Marttila has reportedly been attempting to return to Brisbane from the United States for months in a bid to get home to spend time with his mother, Anneli, who has terminal bowel cancer.
Sari Marttila told The Courier-Mail her mother-in-law “lit up” when she found out her son was coming back to Australia.
However, it is unlikely she will last another 13 days, she said.
“The drastic decline that she’s had within the last two weeks, it’s just obvious, I’m not God but there’s no way we can see that she’ll still be around in two weeks time,” Ms Marttila told The Courier-Mail.
She said they would like someone to consider whether Mr Marttila could be let out “for just a few hours to see her, just anything that would give her the chance to say goodbye.”
But Ms D’Ath said the horrific rate of infection in the United States meant the risk to the community was too great as the global death tally from the pandemic inched above two million.
“This gentleman came from Massachusetts — there has been 454,000 positive cases in that area,” she said.
“We have to be very strict with any exemptions made from hotel quarantine because it is not just about the individual and their loved ones, but the safety of all Queenslanders and all Australians to ensure we do not get the spread of COVID, particularly now that we are seeing new variants popping up around the globe.
“We are already aware of the UK and South African variants, but there are now other variants that are now starting to develop around the world which are putting more at risk as far as an increase in infectious virus through the communities.”