Hanks allowed into Qld but not three NSW kids of dying dad
Hollywood star Tom Hanks has unwittingly found himself at the centre of a COVID border war between NSW and Queensland involving a dying father who is desperate to see his children who live interstate.
Brisbane dad Mark Keanes, 39, who has terminal cancer, has been told only one of his four children will be allowed to cross from NSW into Queensland to visit him, in a dilemma the state's Opposition leader says has sunk the border fiasco to an "appalling" new low.
But despite Queensland denying Mr Keanes' kids the right to see him, superstar Hanks, fully recovered from his own bout of coronavirus, is the latest celebrity to be ushered into Queensland and allowed to complete quarantine at a Gold Coast resort of his choosing after flying into the state on Tuesday.
Mr Keanes has been diagnosed with small cell cancer.
His father Bruce Langborne last night said he has been given until Christmas to live.
Mr Langborne said the family was told one child would be able to visit their dying father, with one adult. The visit would only last one hour.
"(Queensland Health) said we were being selfish by wanting to see him, that we were putting at risk the other cancer patients," Mr Langborne said.
The state's Opposition leader Deb Frecklington raised Mr Keanes' case in parliament on Wednesday, calling on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to show compassion to the family.
"They have said they may have had more luck if they were in the AFL or crew on a superyacht," she said.
But the Premier hit back, saying: "If Queenslanders had listened to the LNP when they asked for the borders to be opened 64 times, we may have been in the situation of Victoria."
A spokesman for Ms Palaszczuk on Wednesday night said he did not know about the case even though it was mentioned in parliament.
Queensland Health said it was unable to investigate the matter without the names of people wishing to enter the state.
Hanks is not the only star to have received the red carpet COVID treatment.
TV talent show judge Dannii Minogue also avoided hotel quarantine and was allowed to isolate in a private home in July.
And construction magnate Mark Simonds and his fellow superyacht border breaches were told they could stay in Queensland after completing quarantine.
Meanwhile, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard slammed the Queensland Premier over border closures keeping families apart, accusing Ms Palaszczuk of engaging in "base, loopy politics" over the matter.
Mr Hazzard said he was "appalled" at the hard border which has created problems for those seeking medical treatment, or attempting to travel into Queensland on compassionate grounds.
"I can only express my anger, my supreme anger, at the Queensland Premier's decision," Mr Hazzard said.
BOFFINS' COSTLY BLOOPER
Coronavirus modelling used by the federal government to send Australia into financially crippling lockdown used the wrong figures and dramatically over-estimated how many people could need intensive care.
When the modelling was released at the start of the pandemic by the Melbourne-based Peter Doherty Institute it horrified health officials.
"This is a horrendous scenario," chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said at the time.
"A daily demand for new intensive care beds of 35,000 plus."
But The Daily Telegraph can reveal the modelling that Prof Murphy said was "highly technical" and could only be understood by people with "scientific brains" was wrong.
The modelling accidentally transposed the figures for the number of people who would be hospitalised during COVID-19 if no measures were taken for the number of people who would be admitted into intensive care units.
The error made the effect of the pandemic appear four times worse than the modelling actually intended, predicting 12,000 people in NSW would go into ICU rather than 3000. And it informed the advice that led to economically crippling lockdowns across the nation.
"I strongly believe we lock down too hard," James Cook University professor of infectious diseases modelling Emma McBryde said.
Her team in Queensland uncovered the error after they were left "scratching our heads" over why the Melbourne modelling was so much worse than their own.
Once her team had worked out how the error occurred they contacted the Doherty researchers and received an email back confirming the modelling would be updated.
"That was three months ago and we are still waiting," Prof McBryde said.
The ABC quoted the incorrect figures again this week.
"Leaving something inaccurate uncorrected on the public record is pretty close to research misconduct," Prof McBryde said.
Professor Jodie McVernon, from the Doherty Institute, confirmed the error was noticed in June but said it was confined to two graphs and "the conclusions on the response strategies needed to ensure enough ICU beds were available were still accurate".
She said they informed the government of the mistake at the time.
AUSTRALIA TO STICK BY OXFORD LAB TRIAL
Australia is not "anywhere near" walking away from a coronavirus vaccine - widely tipped to be the nation's ticket out of restrictions - despite researchers suspending clinical trials after a volunteer became ill.
The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and drug company AstraZeneca hit pause on its phase three trial yesterday after one of its participants suffered a "potentially unexplained illness".
It comes as the federal government recently inked a deal to secure the vaccine and produce 33.8 million doses - with 3.8 million to be available as early as January - if the trials prove it is safe and effective.
The ill participant reportedly suffered from transverse myelitis, an inflammatory syndrome that affects the spinal cord but there has been no evidence of a direct link to the vaccine.
A spokesman for AstraZeneca said the trial would remain paused while the safety data was reviewed by an independent committee.
"This is a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials," he said. "We are working to expedite the review of the single event to minimise any potential impact on the trial timeline."
Australia's deputy chief medial officer Dr Nick Coatsworth said the government was waiting for the results of an investigation but moved to reassure the public that it did not mean the vaccine was compromised.
"(Vaccine trial) pauses are often short, even a matter of days sometimes," he said.
Infectious diseases expert Professor Nigel McMillan said Australians should not lose faith in the vaccine as there could be several "innocent explanations" for the adverse reaction. "This happens every day with trials. This is normal and how clinical trials run."
TESTING TIME WITH SEAT LIMITS FOR HSC KIDS
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said exam rooms will be limited to just 75 students this year while principals will be asked to have alternative venues on standby should a school have to close because of a positive case.
"We know that this year has been a little different to normal and we need to make sure we have these contingency plans in place just so that we do have a plan B should a school be impacted by a COVID case during that exam period," she said.
She said students should allow extra time before exams to allow for the new procedure of asking every student is feeling in good health.
"NESA and Health haven't recommended temperature checks but what they have said is that we should be asking each student if they're feeling OK and making sure they're not unwell.
"We don't want students rushing in at the last minute."
NSW Education Standards Authority acting chief executive Paul Martin said students who were unable to attend should get a doctor's certificate and make an application for illness. "We're asking principals to make sure students, when they go into the exams, are not suffering from any flu-like symptoms," he said.
He also said he was trusting students not to use face masks in a bid to disguise themselves to sit another student's exam.
Originally published as Hanks allowed into Qld but not three NSW kids of dying dad