‘Hopeless’: Angry families slam Covid office closure
DESPERATE families requesting quarantine exemptions have been met with out-of-office emails from Queensland Health, advising its liaison office was shut for 10 days over the Christmas period.
The Courier-Mail has been told Queenslanders in home quarantine wanting an exemption were directed to the Department Liaison Office email address by Queensland Health staff, only to be confronted with an automated email stating the mailbox was not currently being monitored due to a Christmas shutdown.
The automated email states emails to the DLO account would not be replied to between December 25 and January 3, and directs those feeling unwell to call 13 HEALTH or triple-0. It later points those with "further questions" to call the 134 COVID line.
One distraught Queenslander said his family had been left feeling "hopeless and helpless, frustrated and angry" after his daughter's request for a home quarantine exemption was left unattended for almost 24 hours. Curiously, an email sent to the address from an official Courier-Mail email account received a personalised response within five minutes, claiming the inbox was being monitored "all throughout the Christmas and New Year period".
The Courier-Mail initially also received the automatic out-of-office reply in response to its email.
Conversely, the family who wrote to the DLO days ago were left awaiting a reply for almost a day, receiving only the out-of-office message.
And an email sent by The Courier-Mail from a private email address was also unattended for hours.
Both emails were answered yesterday - after queries were raised by The Courier Mail - with identical responses advising "to apply for a quarantine exemption please log on to the exemption request link provided (sic)".
"To follow up on the progress of your exemption application, please either log back on to the health directions portal that you used to apply for the exemption to see the progress of your application (sic)."
A Queensland Health spokesperson said the exemption team continued to work through the Christmas season and processed "approximately 30 requests a day".
The Courier-Mail was told the 134COVID line, rather than the DLO email address, is the usual contact for requests.
The family said that they had been specifically instructed by a Queensland Health staff member to contact the DLO office to request an exemption from home quarantine.
The automated reply to their email from the DLO says, "for queries in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions that have now eased … we will review your query and only provide a response if it is required".
"If you have any further questions about the easing of restrictions, please call 134 COVID (134268)."
Shadow Health Minister Ros Bates said it was a "debacle" that people were stuck in quarantine while the "health department is on holidays" and that clearer messaging was required about COVID-19 directives.
"I've consistently said there must be clear messaging to avoid this unnecessary confusion," Ms Bates said.
Originally published as 'Hopeless': Angry families slam Covid office closure