‘It just feels very inhumane’ – Returnee from Australia asks to be released from MIQ early to see ill father

A cruel twist of fate has left a Kiwi woman stuck in an isolation hotel begging to be let out early as the Trans-Tasman bubble gets set to open on Monday morning.

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Lydia O’Donnell returned to see her dad who is sick with cancer, but is stuck in MIQ despite a travel bubble opening on Monday. Source: 1 NEWS

Lydia O’Donnell has lived in Melbourne for the past 18 months.

Twelve days ago her family received news no one wants to hear – her Dad had been diagnosed with brain cancer.

So she jumped on a plane home and while in the air the bubble opening date was revealed as this coming Monday.

As she rushed around Auckland airport, she asked if she could fly straight back to Melbourne, rather than be stuck in quarantine.

“But it wasn’t an option,” she told 1 NEWS.

Instead, she was flown to Wellington, further away from her heartbroken family in Tauranga.

“It's times like this the system doesn't work, it just feels very inhumane to be honest,” she says from her Wellington hotel room.

A professional athlete and coach, being stuck in the tiny room while under immense stress has compounded her situation.

She’s applied six times for early release – when the bubble opens – and six times has been rejected.

Due to be released on Tuesday afternoon, being let out on Monday morning would allow her to travel north and take her dad to hospital.

Treatment for cancer, which has now spread to other parts of his body, begins on Tuesday morning.

“Understanding the bubble is opening before I'm let out into the community when I’m no risk, knowing all that with what's my dad going through and how much I need to be there to support him and see him and spend time with him and still getting declined is hard, it's probably the hardest thing I've been through really.”

She’s hoping the Government will make a last ditch decision and accept her request.

But there’ll be no last minute reprieve.

Managed Isolation and Quarantine’s Megan Main says her thoughts are with Ms O’Donnell “during this difficult time”.

“However unfortunately none of her applications contained information which altered the outcome of the assessment of the public health risk of Lydia O’Donnell leaving managed isolation early to be with her family.”

But some people have been given compassionate early release.

Since July last year, 126 applications were approved under the Exceptional Circumstances category – out of 3840 applications.

Sixty-two were granted early release, and 53 temporary release.

Once quarantine-free travel begins with Australia, it is still a legal requirement under the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Air Border) Order (No 2) 2020 for travellers from Australia who arrive before 11:59pm 18 April 2021 to enter Managed Isolation for 14 days.