VIRUS INVADERS: 185 visitors vanish without a trace
NEARLY 200 people entering Queensland from interstate and overseas have vanished, putting the state at risk of coronavirus by dodging quarantine orders and giving authorities fake phone numbers and addresses.
And dozens of others have not been found at their nominated address and are now wanted for questioning as Queensland authorities desperately try to avoid a similar fate to Victoria, where a quarantine bungle caused a devastating second wave of infection.
The blatant disregard for the state's health directives has led to a call from Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers to "deport" the offenders and ban them from ever coming back.
Police have had to investigate 2322 cases since mid-April, mostly as a result of Queensland Health being unable to contact people by phone at their nominated self-quarantine address.
Their investigations found that while the majority were complying, more than 200 could not be found, 125 had left Queensland and returned home during the 14-day quarantine period and 17 were found at another address because of a family breakdown or other personal circumstances.
Figures released to The Courier-Mail found a total of 185 people gave fake contact details when entering Queensland and another 25 were never found at their nominated quarantine address.
Another 35 people were found by police having not quarantined and were issued with $1334 fines.
Mr Leavers, who heads the police union, said officers had worked long and hard to protect Queensland's borders as part of the government's lockdown to keep the state COVID-free.
"And, while it is unfathomable to lie on your declaration form, I believe that when the long arm of the law catches up with these offenders, the government and the Chief Health Officer should immediately deport these liars to Tweed Heads in New South Wales and ban them from Queensland permanently," Mr Leavers said.
A police spokeswoman said: "While most people in Queensland are adhering to their requirements for self-quarantine a percentage of individuals are putting others in the community at risk. This will not be tolerated by the QPS."
Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dr Chris Perry said it took just one person doing the wrong thing to spread a deadly disease.
"We are currently in a good position in Queensland in terms of this virus, but we are definitely not out of the woods and we certainly don't want to risk a new wave of community transmission here," he said.
"There is still much we have to learn about COVID-19 and we need to continue every effort to limit the virus's hold so that our frontline health workers and the whole community do not have to face the very difficult situation states like Victoria are currently experiencing."
He said anyone - old or young - can die from coronavirus.
"We need to stay vigilant - continue to practice social distancing, hand hygiene etc, but we also need to be sure that if people are required to be in quarantine they do just that - follow the directives and stay in quarantine," Dr Perry said.
"It could take just one person to do the wrong thing and we could start to see cases rise here again.
"No-one wants to see that scenario."
The Courier-Mail last week revealed a worrying gap in the way venues were following and enforcing COVID-19 laws, with councils refusing to issue fines.
One in four eateries visited by the newspaper failed to take diners' contact details.
Yesterday, a record 55 people were refused entry to Queensland at Gold Coast border checkpoints - the biggest one-day turnaround of vehicles since borders reopened on July 10.
Originally published as Fake info: Hunt for 185 visitors who vanished