WA health officials have scrambled to defend their COVID-19 hotel protocols after admitting a woman who allegedly fled quarantine in Perth simply walked out of the facility.
Jenny Maree D‘Ubios recently returned to Australia from Spain and was due to undertake 14 days in hotel quarantine when she allegedly breached COVID-19 directions by escaping on Saturday.
Ms D‘Ubios was charged under the Emergency Management Act and was refused bail in the Perth Magistrates Court on Sunday. She has been remanded in custody until January 4. She faces a fine of up to $50,000 and up to 12 months in prison if convicted.
It is alleged Ms D‘Ubios threatened to leave the hotel due to her own health issues. WA Health Minister Roger Cook conceded the threats were not taken seriously.
“Well, people make threats all the time in relation to their situation and it‘s very disappointing in this part circumstance,” Mr Cook said.
“We‘ve had more than 20,000 people through our quarantine hotels; this is the first time we’ve had an incident like this with an international traveller.
Ms D‘Ubios was not restrained at the hotel despite security guards demanding she not leave. Police were called and security guards followed her as she left but lost sight of her location.
It is alleged she was then allowed to be in the community for almost 12 hours before police found her at a Perth hospital. Authorities did not alert the public for more than nine hours after her alleged escape despite the potential risk to community health.
WA Assistant Police Commissioner Paul Steel confirmed security guards did have the power to restrain guests at quarantine hotels – even though they did not with Ms D‘Ubios.
“There are protocols in place in relation to how quarantine hotels are run; however, in general powers of a citizen’s arrest those powers do extend to security guards as well,” Mr Steel said.
Mr Cook defended the state’s hotel quarantine system while expressing his frustration with Ms D‘Ubois’ alleged escape.
“The result of this is the woman is now in police custody and faces a substantial fine … so the consequences of her actions are significant,” Mr Cook said.
“I‘m disappointed and angry; particularly angry at the traveller who by her actions potentially put many people at risk.”
Police say the 49-year-old was last seen walking on Adelaide Terrace in Perth about 10.20am on Saturday but was later found after 10pm at Rockingham General Hospital.
Ms D‘Ubios — who goes by Jennifer Gonzalez on social media — shared her experience of hotel quarantine in a video posted online on Saturday morning.
She said because of her alleged allergies to wheat, dairy, sulfates and dust, she was forced to take an antihistamine, something she said she had not needed to do for more than two years because her body “can heal itself”.
Ms D‘Ubios claimed she was then rushed to hospital twice because of the side effects caused from taking the over-the-counter medicine that included rapid heart rate, low blood pressure and dehydration.
“I woke up this morning and I can’t breathe again because I’m stuck in this f—ing room,” Ms D‘Ubios said in the nine-minute video.
Wearing a T-shirt that read “NO FUTURE”, Ms D‘Ubios said it would become the reality of the human race if people did not protest by the millions to remove governments from the world.
“We have the ability to do it but you’re full of fear, you’re lazy and letting them control everything,” she said.
“They’re going to use the army to mass vaccinate you for a 0.03 per cent contraction rate of virus that does not exist with a 99 per cent healing rate.
“I’m done having to suffer because people won’t stand up for their rights … Everybody needs to start to wake up.”
Ms D‘Ubios was not the only Australian accused of trying to skip quarantine over the weekend.
After just six days in isolation at the Holiday Inn hotel at Tullamarine, John-Lee Berridge tried to escape and was restrained by police in Melbourne on Saturday.
Speaking on 3AW on Sunday morning, he said he travelled to Victoria from Sydney only hours before last week’s border closure.
Mr Berridge said he’d been in Sydney for nine months but still held a Victorian licence.
“I know it was wrong … but I had told the medical staff my anxiety is going to take over and I can’t control myself, and I’m just going to go out and try to leave until I’m forcibly stopped,” he said on radio.
“They need to understand I was told and informed I could self-isolate, but when I got here they sent me straight to mandatory quarantine.”