Doctor reveals quarantined travellers are being released early

A Perth doctor in charge of 600 returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine has revealed some people were being released early without her approval.

Speaking to Lisa Wilkinson on The Sunday Project, Perth GP Dr Julie Manasseh shared allegations about what she witnessed while caring for those in quarantine across two Perth hotels.

Dr Manasseh accepted a short-term medical assignment three weeks ago, which saw her in charge of 600 overseas arrivals at the Crown Promenade and the Crown Metropol.

She said the Western Australia Health Department never informed her when an individual in her care tested positive to coronavirus.

“We, the doctors at the coal face, were never informed of any result, whether positive or negative, by the Health Department,” she said.

She also alleged travellers were being released early through ambulance rides. One of such travellers was an elderly woman with “dozens” of underlying medical conditions who had only been in quarantine for four days after arriving from Bali. According to the ambulance officers, they had received “some sort of directive from Public Health” to release the woman.

Dr Manasseh said when she challenged the decision, the woman started “threatening” to “make sure I never worked again”.

“She goes, ‘I had spoken to my GP. I told him I have claustrophobia and I hate being in a hotel room like this. And he made some phone calls. And that's why I'm being let out and you're trying to stop this.’”

In the following days, the woman was released and Dr Manasseh received a phone call saying she “was no longer wanted to come back to the job by the Health Department”.

The Sunday Project also reported another doctor saw people being released from quarantine early without their authorisation.

Dr Manasseh said another traveller, who was a navy veteran with PTSD, “had ample medical grounds for exemption”. However, her request for the man to be moved to a room with an outdoor area was refused “time and time again” until he was moved to another hotel with a small garden.

The state’s Health Department told the program some guests were released early “due to medical reasons” as verified by their regular GP or an onsite clinician.

“However, these people are still required to remain in quarantine until they have served their 14-day period, but within a more appropriate setting for the condition, which is generally at their home,” the department said in a statement.

“In Western Australia, the WA Police are provided with a list of those who have been granted an exemption to quarantine at home, and can follow up on people as required to ensure they remain in quarantine.”

This article originally appeared on Over60.