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3 Dec, 2021 12:58

Elderly man who aimed to visit son dies at closed state border

Elderly man who aimed to visit son dies at closed state border

A man has died at a caravan park in New South Wales, Australia. He is believed to have been a full-time carer for his wife and daughter, and had applied to travel with the family to reunite with his son in neighboring Queensland.

The 78-year-old man got stranded with the two women, aged 71 and 55 respectively, at a camp site in New South Wales (NSW) close to the Queensland state border. They were waiting for permission to travel and live with the man’s son, who resides just 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the camp, the Courier Mail reported on Thursday.

Having been stuck there for around 14 weeks, the father suddenly died. Police have confirmed an elderly man’s death at the site, and say an investigation has been launched.

The man had apparently applied for a border exemption, needed for cross-border travel under Queensland’s tough Covid-19 rules, in November. People from NSW are only allowed to enter for limited reasons, and must complete a mandatory quarantine upon arrival.

Queensland health officials confirmed to the media that such an application had been received, and claimed that the “exemptions team communicated with the applicant multiple times.”

A Queensland resident at the border, also waiting to cross into the state after visiting her dying mother in Victoria, said the man had been “waiting a while and was very stressed out, as we all are.”

It’s just somebody who needed to get across the border to be with his family,” she commented, adding that many have found themselves in a similar situation, all waiting “for that magic day” when the state lines reopen.

Anti-coronavirus measures applied by local governments in Australia are often criticized as being too harsh. The Queensland government’s handling of the situation in particular has been condemned by the state’s human rights commissioner. “Blanket approaches … have not properly considered the rights of those affected by restrictions and may not have been proportionate to the risk,” Scott McDougall said in his statement on the border exemption process, as quoted by Australian media.