How an Australian couple’s holiday turned into a nightmare with Covid, cancelled flights, lost luggage, a cyclone and a volcanic eruption
- ‘Outdated’ Australian re-entry requirements has temporarily split a family
- Mother-of-two is allowed to leave Fiji, but not allowed to land in Melbourne
- Australia’s international travel arrangements are lagging the domestic ones
Australians are being needlessly stranded overseas after recovering from Covid by outdated isolation requirements scrapped at home.
Martina Cullen said the re-entry requirements split her family despite her having no Covid symptoms and not being contagious after picking up the virus while on holiday in Fiji.
Despite being cleared to leave the country by Fijian authorities, she is still there well after her nephew after other family members flew home to Melbourne.
Ms Cullen had to say goodbye to her husband Nigel Landeryou and children Talei, 12, and Liadin, two, and stay in Nadi while they flew home as the Australian Government requires her to wait 14 days after her positive PCR test before leaving.
Martina Cullen (pictured) is stuck in Fiji while her husband and kids have been able to fly back home to Melbourne
‘What I wasn’t prepared for was that the Australian government have kept in place a rule that is no longer valid within Australia,’ she told The Age.
The family flew to Fiji in late December and on Christmas Day flew to Savusavu for a family reunion with Mr Landeryou’s Fijian-born mother and Australian-born father, who has Parkinson’s disease.
Mr Landeryou’s sister’s family were also on the holiday.
By the time they all returned to Nadi on January 6 to fly to Melbourne the next day it had already been a very eventful holiday, with lost luggage, cancelled flights, a cyclone and the Tongan volcanic eruption.
But it was about to get worse. Some family members tested positive to Covid-19 on January 7, causing them to miss afternoon flight and go into hotel quarantine.
Though the Fijian government released the family on January 12 after they met local requirements, the Australian government still requires travellers to wait 14 days after their first positive PCR test if they are ‘shedding’.
Shedding is when patients have recovered from Covid, have no symptoms, and are not contagious but continue to test positive.
‘Myself and my nephew are still shedding the virus but no longer contagious, have been given clearance by the Fijian Ministry of Health,’ Ms Cullen said.
Martina Cullen (pictured right) is hoping to soon be reunited with her husband Nigel Landeryou (pictured left) in Melbourne
Australians have since last month only had to isolation for seven days after testing positive and can freely travel after that time.
However, waiting times to fly into Australia from abroad have not been reduced as they have in many other countries.
So Ms Cullen and her nephew are allowed to leave Fiji, but not allowed to land in Melbourne.
‘We have followed all the rules we needed to, it’s the disjunct between what happens for re-entry into Australia as opposed to internal requirements,’ she said.
‘The rules just haven’t caught up. I am fit to fly as far as the Fijian government is concerned.’
She and her nephew have been spending their time in limbo at Nadi’s Gateway hotel.
Martina Cullen (pictured left) is stuck in Fiji due to Covid-19 regulations, while her husband Nigel Landeryou (pictured right) was allowed to fly back to Australia
‘We are free to roam around the resort, we have medical clearance from the Ministry of Health on two separate occasions,’ she said.
‘The biggest thing I want to get through is that Australian families are in this predicament around the world, spending thousands of dollars on an antiquated rule that has been updated in most countries.’
Ms Cullen, who has already spent $15,000 said Australia needs to update its regulations and it was ‘insane’ that it had not already done so.
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