The brother of one of the three Queensland women who recently tested positive to coronavirus sparking a huge spike in testing in the state has said the attention on the trio is motivated by race.
Diana Lasu, 21, and Olivia Muranga, 19, each face one count of providing false or misleading information, as well as the more serious charge of fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment. They’ve also both been hit with $4000 fines after a trip to Melbourne.
Another 21-year-old, who police allege travelled with the other two, faces the same charges.
Police allege the trio all travelled to Victoria and deliberately provided misleading documents at the Queensland border.
Ms Muranga’s brother Eddie told A Current Affair on Thursday his sister struggled for days with coronavirus after arriving home from Victoria on July 21.
“You need to think about this … think about my sister … she couldn’t even breathe, some days she couldn’t even breathe out of her airways,” he said.
Eddie said his sister and the other two women hadn’t spread coronavirus deliberately.
“It’s not something that we sat down and thought about yeah, it’s a f**king mistake,” he said.
“I reckon if someone else did this yeah, that wasn’t of colour, you’d be f**king protecting them. You wouldn’t be doing all of this s**t.
“Just because we’re f**king black, you all want to run all the way to the media, talking all of this s**t bro.”
It comes as footage of Muranga ordering a cocktail at a Brisbane bar in the hours after she had a test for coronavirus was also aired by the show.
Arif Mendes, who owns the restaurant told ACA: “People say we’re in this together … well clearly not for some people, that’s disappointing.”
“Two cocktails hardly seems worth all this pain.”
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POLICE TRACK WOMEN USING MOBILE DATA
All three women are currently in quarantine under police guard and will appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on September 28.
It was announced on Wednesday that the two women had tested positive for coronavirus but had been going about their business in the community for eight days instead of quarantining.
They had flown back into Brisbane on July 21 after holidaying in Melbourne, a declared hotspot, but allegedly lied on their border declaration forms.
A 22-year-old woman, who is a sister of one of the pair, has also tested positive in Queensland’s first case of community transmission since May.
Police were forced to use mobile phone data and bank transactions from the group to ensure they got a full picture of their movements around Brisbane and Logan, the Courier Mail reported.
Queensland’s chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young said in a press conference on Thursday one of the women had not been co-operating in an initial decision that may have cost contact tracers hours of valuable time.
“Unfortunately the second confirmed case has not wanted to let us know where she has been,” Dr Young said.
“I don’t know where that second case has been.
“I am worried about the second individual who had not been cooperative and has not shared where she has been.
“People should be very cautious … this is the time to go and get tested.”
However Queensland Police confirmed the woman had changed her mind by Thursday afternoon and was since co-operating with officers.
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said she was “bitterly disappointed” but police were now sure they had all members of the travelling party identified.
“They went to extraordinary lengths to be deceitful and deceptive and … that has what has put the community at risk,” she said.
Ms Carroll said the women would face court to send a message that “we will not tolerate this behaviour at our borders”.
On whether they should face potential jail time, she said “I think that the courts will hopefully look at this very, very seriously, as is the public.”
PARTY IN MELBOURNE APARTMENT
The case sparked a 300 per cent spike in testing in Queensland with long queues pictured as anxious residents rushed to get themselves checked.
On Wednesday Queensland Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said the three “knowingly and deliberately deceived us” by allegedly lying about being in Victoria.
“One of the first two women has been cooperative, the other has not,” he added. “We are still working with the third person (to ensure contact tracing).
“We know these three young women have all gone to Victoria where they have been exposed to COVID. They will all go towards the court, and charges will be formalised today.
“It’s astounding that they put themselves at risk.”
It’s also been reported the women allegedly hosted a party at a rental apartment in Melbourne that was shut down by police who handed out more than $30,000 in fines to up to 30 people on July 19 – when Melbourne was already into its second six-week lockdown.
It was revealed on Wednesday Ms Muranga, a cleaner at Parklands Christian College in Park Ridge, west of Brisbane, did not self-isolate on her return to Logan, instead working three days at the private school before being later diagnosed with the virus.
The school issued a warning to staff and students on Wednesday.
“The staff member was on site last week and then rang in sick and then that’s when the trace program started,” Principal Gary Cully told The Courier-Mail.
Ms Muranga was tested for coronavirus on Monday after feeling sick for days. She was notified her test was positive on Tuesday. A day later, Ms Lasu was tested, who soon found out she was positive for coronavirus too.
The infectious trio are in isolation at Brisbane’s Prince Alfred Hospital and at least 15 close contacts are in hotel quarantine.