Cruise doctors ‘detained and denied food’ at hotel
Doctors from the cruise ship where 31 others allegedly skipped immediate quarantine claim they have been "detained" at a Sydney hotel and denied food.
In an angry missive fired off from Sydney airport on Saturday, one of the organisers of the cruise ship tried to get 20 doctors out of the hotel where they are staying for their compulsory period of self-isolation.
"At least 20 of our doctors are being detained by police at the Rydges Hotel in Sydney, being denied access to food and being asked to signed the attached document," the email from Unconventional Conventions managing director, Mark Cunich states.
"The doctors were not sent to a designated facility for quarantine because none was set up last night. The new policy only comes into effect tonight.
"They should be let free to go home where they have access to medications that are needed. From home they can work in telehealth and start contributing back."
On Friday, Prime Minster Scott Morrison announced that all international arrivals needed to go into quarantine at an airport hotel for two weeks.
About 130 passengers from a medical conference cruise, that had been stranded off the coast of Chile, arrived in Sydney in the early hours of Saturday morning on an international flight.
Mr Morrison, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller and NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard claimed that 31 doctors from the cruise ignored a direction to self-isolate in hotels and travelled to their homes across the country.
The cruise organisers, Rod and Margo Cunich, did not quarantine at an airport hotel and are at their home in Vaucluse in Sydney's east.
They claim they were given permission by police on duty to go home because they live within 20 minutes of the airport.
Police confirmed to the Daily Telegraph that " anyone that lived in close proximity to the airport was allowed to return home to self-quarantine".
As well as organising medical conferences, Rod and Margo Cunich run an activist group, the Quiet Australians Stand Up for Climate Change, and have organised protests outside of Liberal MPs offices including Dan Tehan and Katie Allen.
Their local Wentworth MP, Dave Sharma, is a regular target. Despite this he contacted DFAT to help the stranded cruise return to Australia.
The cruise left Australia on February 29. This was a month after the World Health Organisation declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January.
"They departed at a time when this was quite clear it was becoming an international health pandemic," Mr Sharma said.
"Is this really the best time to be heading off on a cruise?"
The pair declined to comment publicly when contacted by The Daily Telegraph, but they commented about their ordeal on their Facebook page.
"We are currently on a ship that was due to return to Chile on Tuesday but was stopped from landing when the country's borders were closed," the couple wrote.
"The world was a different place when we boarded the ship 19 days ago. Everyone on board is healthy and alternative plans have been made to get us all home safely."
One of the doctors who is facing accusations of fleeing police is understood to be the head of a hospital emergency department outside of NSW.
Originally published as Cruise doctors 'detained, denied food' at Sydney hotel