Passenger reacts to whistleblower's shocking claim

DESPITE trying to blow the whistle on recent hotel quarantine conditions, a Perth GP was still part of this "human rights violation" says Ulmarra resident John Leask.

In an interview with Lisa Wilkinson on The Sunday Project, Dr Julie Manasseh revealed multiple disturbing claims while she oversaw 600 returned travellers required to enter hotel quarantine across two Perth hotels. Among them were Mr Leask and his wife Di.

"Some of what she has said (on The Sunday Project) was right, but she's still responsible for any decisions she made, and one of those decisions was to turn away an ambulance. Now that man is in intensive care," Mr Leask said.

 

Dr Julie Manasseh talks to The Sunday Project. Picture: Network 10
Dr Julie Manasseh talks to The Sunday Project. Picture: Network 10

An investigation has since been launched into the incident, where it allegedly took more than nine hours before the man was admitted to hospital and placed in an induced coma after multiple calls for help.

However, Dr Manasseh revealed in the television interview that she was given "only two hours' notice and given no information about the job whatsoever" after she accepted the short-term medical assignment.

"It makes me feel very sad, ashamed and disappointed that this is the behaviour of our health department. They are supposed to be our leaders" she said in the interview.

Mr Leask said tragedies such as the one with the man could have been avoided had proper care been taken with returned travellers.

"Compared to Western Australian residents, we were given no medical checks, no medical survey or dietary survey before to going into quarantine. It was a one-size-fits-all approach and that's where they ran into trouble," he said.

John and Di Leask while in hotel quarantine at the Crown Metropol Hotel in Perth.
John and Di Leask while in hotel quarantine at the Crown Metropol Hotel in Perth.

 

"There was barely any nutritional value in the meals provided. We didn't see any protein in any of the meals given and most of it was just three-quarters worth of rice."

Mr Leask said he lost 2.5kg in the first few days due to food allergies until they could get meals delivered using mobile phone apps. However, the lack of a dietary survey proved potentially deadly for one passenger.

"One woman, who is extremely allergic to capsicum, had some in one of the meals. She had lifted the foil off the top and that was it," Mr Leask said.

Friends of the woman said she stumbled to the hotel door to get fresh air, opened the door and collapsed. It's understood she briefly received medical treatment but was returned to her room a short time later.

"The next morning, she got an official warning about leaving her room. It said she'd get a $50,000 fine if she did it again. It was all just so callous," Mr Leask said.

"They had no idea that she was allergic to capsicum and how would they when no dietary or medical survey had been done."

Compounding the issue further, a lack of fresh air and exercise exacerbated one man's Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which has since made national headlines.

Video footage emerged of the retired navy officer enduring one of many panic attacks while locked inside the Perth hotel room.

The retired Navy officer was in Perth hotel quarantine filmed having a panic attack after he was denied time outside of room to manage PTSD.
The retired Navy officer was in Perth hotel quarantine filmed having a panic attack after he was denied time outside of room to manage PTSD.

"That poor guy was two doors beneath us, and we heard him yelling and screaming," Mr Leask said.

"He was asking to leave their door open for 15 minutes each day to help manage his PTSD and they kept refusing. It was a permanent disability but without those medical surveys how would anyone know that?"

Dr Manasseh revealed in the interview that the retired Navy officer was one passenger in her care during the temporary assignment.

"This was a man who had ample medical grounds for exemption," she said in the television interview.

"We just asked for him to have a room where he could have an outdoor area, to at least not be completely closed in."

Dr Manasseh said the request was knocked back "time and time again", until eventually he was moved to another hotel with a small garden.

After that incident, medical checks were implemented throughout the hotel. However, Mr Leask said this was carried out by unqualified staff.

"The so-called medical check was a security guard with a notepad and pen who'd stand at the door, pretend to tick a box and then leave," he said.

"There was never any feedback or discussion of any kind."

 

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Although Mr Leask and his wife Di are safely back home in Ulmarra, he said the blatant lack of care shown by authorities should be investigated.

"For Di and I, we were lucky to have only minor problems, but I was appalled by the lack of care shown toward the elderly passengers and those with medical or mental health problems," he said.

"You just don't treat people that way; you treat them with respect, dignity and care.

"This experience showed how badly this whole operation was run and that the government have some work to do before anything like this happens again."


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