Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has described the nation’s domestic border closures as cruel, adding that the current restrictions were “inexplicable”.
Frydenberg’s remarks on Sunday came after a pregnant woman from Ballina in New South Wales (NSW) was forced to travel about 750 km to Sydney for medical care instead of about 200 km to Brisbane, Queensland because of the border closures that led to the death of her unborn child, reports Xinhua news agency.
“There’s too much confusion and, and ultimately too much cruelty, in the way that the borders have been closed. And what we need is more compassion,” Frydenberg told Sky News Australia.
“It’s inexplicable that a mother can lose their child because of confusion as to how they can access a hospital in Brisbane.
“Those jurisdictions have got questions to answer when it comes to the operation of their borders because what we can’t see is people being denied medical treatment,” he added.
When asked about the tragic death of the unborn baby, Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles on Saturday said the border restrictions were “clear” that those requiring medical care were allowed to cross the border.
“This last 24 hours, watching politicians use this tragic event to further their political arguments … it makes me sick,” he said.
So far, Australia has reported 25,670 coronavirus cases. On Sunday, 125 new infections were registered, according to the latest figures from Department of Health.
The national death toll has increased to 611 after authorities in Victoria, Australia’s hardest-hit state by the pandemic, reported 11 new fatalities on Sunday.
Of the new cases, Victoria reported 114, NSW seven and Queensland four.