A young child with ‘severe autism’ had to be fast-tracked out of hotel quarantine in one of many human rights interferences this year.
A young child with ‘severe autism’ had to be fast-tracked out of hotel quarantine in one of many human rights interferences this year.

Autistic child removed from quarantine

A three-year-old child with autism became so "severely distressed" in hotel quarantine the Queensland Human Rights Commission was forced to intervene to get them out.

The Queensland child, who has severe food aversions, returned from New Zealand with five adults in her family during the COVID-19 pandemic and was placed into mandatory quarantine, the annual QHRC report said.

 

"While she was in quarantine it became clear that the environment was unsuitable for her needs and causing her distress," the report said.

"Her diet could not be catered for in quarantine.

"Usually, the mother relies on family to help care for the child but was kept separate from other family members."

The situation worsened when the mother was accidentally locked out of the room for half an hour, causing the child to become "severely distressed".

Early intervention discussions between a commission conciliator and Queensland Health resulted in the family being fast-tracked for an exemption to hotel quarantine.

"(They) were able to return home for quarantining one day after lodging their complaint with the commission," the report stated.

It's one of very few hotel quarantine exemptions granted in Queensland during the pandemic.

Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young has approved just 104 hotel quarantine exemptions this year. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Sarah Marshall
Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young has approved just 104 hotel quarantine exemptions this year. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Sarah Marshall

New figures have revealed just 104 people, 0.7 per cent of all requests, were granted an exemption by Queensland Health and the chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young.

Nearly 14,800 hotel quarantine exemption requests have been made since June 18.

The QHRC received 54 official complaints related to COVID-19, including hotel quarantine, since the pandemic began after previously raising concerns about the program.

The commission has loudly advocated for those in hotel quarantine to have at least openable windows, if not a balcony. Earlier this week, those who did not have either of those were stripped of their "fresh air breaks".

One woman who was quarantining in a hotel room without a balcony had anxiety and panic events so severe the QHRC was forced to intervene.

"(Her attacks) were exacerbated by being in a closed space without natural air and light," the report stated.

"The woman lodged a complaint with the commission after unsuccessfully raising the matter herself. Through the conciliation process it came to light that a recommendation that she be moved to a balcony room had been made but not actioned.

"The matter was swiftly resolved by the woman being moved to a balcony room."

Originally published as Autistic child removed from quarantine


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