'Public servants did nothing as quarantine went to hell'
Queensland Health says its staff were inside quarantine hotels where travellers were locked in their rooms for days at a time but refused to say why they did not intervene.
The admission comes after Queensland Council for Civil Liberties vice-president Terry O'Gorman wrote to Queensland Health director-general Dr John Wakefield after The Courier-Mail revealed that guests were confined to rooms for as long as 26 hours straight, served late and inedible food, and calls for help, including mental health pleas, were going unanswered.
Mr O'Gorman demanded Queensland Health officials be put in the hotels to end the "buck passing" between authorities.
A Queensland Health spokesman said staff were there "in person", "since we started hotel quarantine".
Mr O'Gorman said: "The structural changes we are calling for, counsellors on the ground, and Queensland Health representatives on the ground to talk to people in their rooms to ensure they are getting sufficient time is not a big ask."
Mr O'Gorman said he had received calls from mandatory quarantiners who remained inside hotels and were in a desperate mental state but were too frightened to go public for fear of retribution.
"Those people who are in hotel quarantine who cannot handle the confinement to a hotel room should be able to access in person counselling to deal with stress and anxiety," Mr O'Gorman writes in the letter.
"Secondly, Queensland Health should have a person actually located 'on the ground' in relation to all hotels that are being used for quarantine purposes to ensure that the buck passing as referred to in the enclosed article between hotel management and the police in relation to inadequate time periods for people being allowed to get some fresh air can be addressed.
"I would appreciate hearing from you in relation to these issues."
Mr O'Gorman said the problem was far wider than any one hotel, with guests in hotels in different parts of southeast Queensland making similar disturbing complaints.
Originally published as Public servants did nothing as quarantine went to hell