CORONAVIRUS: Couple in hotel lockdown hold grave concerns
BASIC nutrition, hygiene products and medical care have been denied to elderly Australians in quarantine inside a Perth hotel room.
Ulmarra resident John Leask told The Daily Examiner that he and wife Di had been experiencing these inadequate conditions first-hand since disembarking the Vasco da Gama cruise ship in Fremantle last week.
Under new government restrictions, all travellers returning to Australia must undergo mandatory quarantine in a hotel or other accommodation facility for 14 days before they can go home.
Although disappointed their 18-days on board a virus-free ship didn't qualify for the quarantine period, the Leasks accepted the two-week lockdown and arrived at the Crown Metropol Hotel, Perth in good spirits.
However, the pair were shocked by the lack of nutrition and general care available.
"This whole issue is about trying to maintain your level of health in these very dangerous times, especially the seniors," Mr Leask said.
"The food being offered is definitely restricted to a minimal budget. Many people have critical dietary needs which are being ignored. Even if you had no dietary issues, it's not a balanced menu as there has been no protein for seven meals so far.
"We know there are a few whose food allergies are anaphylactic. For them, this is a matter of life or death."
Fortunately, the tech-savvy pair discovered they could get food delivered to them from nearby restaurants, thereby relieving them of the poor quality nutrition provided.
However, Mr Leask said he holds grave concerns for the remaining elderly travellers isolated in the hotel's 395 rooms, most of whom are without internet or phone access.
"The oldies are not happy and emotionally are starting to breakdown," he said.
"There was screaming and yelling up the hallways (on Friday). Someone was having a major meltdown. This was followed by security telling him that he was breaking the law if he put a foot outside the door.
"A simple basic right has been taken from us. The mental and emotional fragility of some of these oldies is certainly going to be tested and I suspect could debilitate some."
To maintain their own mental health, Mr Leask said he occupies himself with books while wife Di has engrossed herself in a Netflix series.
"That's been good for her as she puts her headphones on and escapes reality that undid her on the first morning here," he said.
Meanwhile, Western Australian residents also on board the Vasco da Gama are currently seeing out their quarantine period at Rottnest Island under more adequate conditions.
"We have got a little courtyard, and a balcony," fellow passenger Bill Lawton told Perth newspaper WA Today.
"We won the raffle here, it's right on the beach, the view is gorgeous. It's devoid of boats, I've never seen it like this. It sounds wonderful, but it's still a quarantine."
Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan said he has reached out to the Western Australian government to explain why non-WA residents were not being afforded the same quarantine conditions.
"I expect all Australian citizens to be treated the same," Mr Hogan said.
"Western Australian citizens shouldn't be treated any differently to other residents around different states."