Qld rejects Melbourne couple’s plea for early quarantine release to meet newborn

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Queensland health authorities have prevented a Melbourne couple quarantining in Brisbane from seeing their newborn baby for a week after his emergency birth, with a final plea for an exemption rejected by Queensland’s Chief Health Officer.

Traumatised first-time parents Moe and Sarah Haider, both of whom have tested negative for COVID-19 and are fully vaccinated, accused the Queensland government of hypocrisy on Monday after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk tweeted she had received her first Pfizer shot “in the event I need to travel to Tokyo for the Olympics”.

“I’m told the vaccine means nothing,” Mr Haider said. “You’re told the vaccine means you can travel. How on earth does this make sense?”

The couple, from Epping in Melbourne’s north, flew into Brisbane on May 26 after spending four years in Qatar, where Mr Haider taught maths.

Days into their 14-day hotel quarantine, Ms Haider’s 30-week scan revealed complications with her pregnancy and that she would need a C-section within days.

That day came on June 1, before dawn.

Mr Haider requested to be with his wife for the birth, but he was not allowed out of hotel quarantine and into the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital until the following day.

Mr Haider said his wife had not set eyes on their baby, Ilyas, either because doctors whisked the newborn away before removing the curtain that concealed her line of sight from the C-section operation.

The baby, while premature, is healthy and breathing on his own, Mr Haider said.

Both parents have tested negative to COVID-19 multiple times since the birth and have been battling Queensland bureaucracy for an exemption to leave their isolation rooms at the hospital and see their child.

“I’m not a footy player, I’m not a cricket player, I’m not a musician – I’m not Dannii Minogue … I’m not bringing in a multimillion-dollar income, I’m not able to jump on a boat and go around state to state,” Mr Haider said.

“If you’ve got connections you can get things done, but otherwise you can’t. That’s what it’s become.”

Minutes after a friend alerted him to the Queensland Premier’s tweet, Mr Haider received an email on Monday afternoon from Queensland health authorities informing the parents that Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young had reviewed the case and denied the application.

The email, seen by The Age, does not provide an explanation.

Mr Haider was so incensed he tried to phone Health Minister Yvette D’Ath but was put on to a staffer.

“I called the government, and they’re like ‘what email?’,” he said. “I’m not trying to be political, but this government is a shambles.

They will now wait until 5.30pm on Wednesday, the time they were originally scheduled to leave quarantine, to see Ilyas for the first time, before moving into Ronald McDonald House.

“I have perspective. There are people in worse situations,” Mr Haider said. “I’m sure when we go [to Ronald McDonald House], there are people whose kids have cancer.

“But I just think that what happened to us shouldn’t happen. What happened to my wife shouldn’t happen to anyone.”

The Haiders hope the Queensland government will support their efforts to leave Ronald McDonald House early and return to Melbourne, where they have family, support, a home and job prospects.

Queensland Health did not respond when contacted.

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