A woman infected with COVID-19 and fled locked-down Melbourne with her husband and went on a 1,900km road trip may have crossed the NSW-Queensland border at a remote town to avoid detection.
Health authorities in Victoria, NSW and Queensland are rushing to track down hundreds of people who may have been exposed to the virus during their interstate trip.
The 44-year-old woman tested positive on Wednesday but may have been infectious from the day she left Melbourne on June 1, which was already in lockdown.
Police believe the couple crossed the NSW-Queensland border at the remote rural town of Goondiwindi on June 5 in the hopes to evade authorities.
The couple most likely drove the scenic route so they could avoid passing through the Gold Coast – where police perform 100 random checks a day.
Karl Stefanovic led a wave of public outrage, saying the couple should be named and shamed and have “the book thrown at them”.
“I think there is understandable anger across regional Victoria, into regional NSW and then into some of those regional parts of Queensland as well particularly, because they have done such a great job protecting themselves against COVID,” the Today show co-host fumed on Thursday morning.
“A lot of people are furious. They have to throw the book at these people. They have to. I’m not averse to naming and shaming. We have to get this message through.”
Co-host Allison Langdon agreed the couple should be punished but did not say they should be named and shamed.
“My initial reaction is I want to know who they are, they’ve done the wrong thing but if you do that, you don’t have people coming forward and don’t have people getting tested,” she argued.
Stefanovic continued his furious rant.
“They are going to get named if they’re charged,” he replied.
“How do you not get it? How do you not get that message through and maybe embarrassment is a way of doing it.”
Stefanovic felt for residents in the regional towns the couple had driven through.
“You’d be filthy if you lived in the country and these people had driven your town, wouldn’t you,” he said shortly afterwards.
“How does the message not get through? It puts enormous stress on people who are now waiting for tests and enormous stress on businesses.
“Let’s just hope [the couple has] got a good excuse.”
Stefanovic had weighed into the debate following an interview with Queensland-based Royal Australian College of General Practitioners vice president Dr Bruce Willett.
This article originally appeared on Over60.