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Anti-vaxxer, border hopper - but did this man break the rules to bring virus home?

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Police are investigating whether a Gold Coast anti-vaxxer rideshare driver, who is suspected of being infectious with COVID-19 in the community for 10 days, breached border controls to bring the virus strain back into Queensland.

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The man, 34-year-old Duran Raman from Broadbeach, remains on an oxygen ventilator in the Gold Coast University Hospital.

He was admitted after presenting at the emergency department of Robina Hospital on Wednesday where he got a test, but then left the hospital against medical advice.

When it came back positive, he had to be tracked down. By Thursday, his symptoms were so severe he was admitted straight to Gold Coast University Hospital.

He remained so ill that he had not been able to speak with contact tracers by Thursday evening to help identify where he had been during his 10 days back in Queensland.

It is understood Raman, who lives alone at the Island Beach Resort at Broadbeach, left Queensland in late September and travelled to Sydney and Melbourne while both cities were in strict lockdown and Delta strain infection numbers were skyrocketing.

His Instagram account shows he tagged Sydney locations in late September. He was believed to be in Melbourne on 9 October and travelled back into Queensland on 11 October.

Police confirmed they were working with Queensland Health to determine how Raman was able to enter Queensland from the hotspots and why he did not enter quarantine.

Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said she believed he had not “done the right thing”.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young confirmed Raman had also not used QR code check-ins since 18 September.

Gold Coast Acting Chief Superintendent Rhys Wildman said police were continuing to crack down on people flouting pandemic directions, as traffic on the border Friday morning backed up for kilometres and drivers faced around a 45-minute wait to cross into the state.

“If somebody tests positive it is vitally important health authorities are able to reach out to anyone who may have been exposed,” Wildman said.

“So, contact tracing is absolutely vital and the app is also essential.”

Raman is unvaccinated and his social media profiles are littered with objections to lockdowns and virus restrictions. In one of his posts, he said an anti-lockdown protest leader should be Prime Minister.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said his case, the first in Queensland after 15 days of no infectious cases in the community, was “a wake-up call” for the Gold Coast and Queensland.

Queensland recorded no new local cases of COVID-19 and five new cases in hotel quarantine in the 24 hours to 6.30am on Friday.

However, a truck driver has tested positive after visiting venues in Brisbane earlier this week.

The driver tested positive in Victoria on Wednesday but was infectious while in Brisbane for two days on Monday and Tuesday.

Queensland Health has already listed exposure sites linked to the driver, who had received one vaccine dose, including a cinema in Stafford and venues in Archerfield and Acacia Ridge.

NSW recorded 345 cases on Friday, down from 372 on Thursday. Five more people died, taking the death toll from that state’s outbreak to 592.

Victoria recorded 2189 new COVID-19 cases and 16 deaths as Melbourne emerged from lockdown overnight and its residents flock to hairdressers, cafes and pubs.

Gold Coast Health executive director of medical services, Dr Jeremy Wellwood, told ABC Gold Coast there was no excuse for following “misinformation” and people needed to get vaccinated urgently.

“There has been plenty of time to review the information. There is misinformation out there, but there has been adequate time to look at what the advice is. It’s very, very clear,” Wellwood said

Ten schools across the Gold Coast will be among the 100 schools across Queensland in this weekend’s Super Saturday vaccination blitz to boost the number of Queenslanders receiving their COVID-19 vaccination jabs.

“We need Queenslanders to vaccinate before it’s too late,” Palaszczuk said. “Super Saturday is our largest vaccine push to date. If you’ve been saying you’ll just wait a bit before getting the vaccine – it’s time for you to come forward and get vaccinated now.”

The Queensland government has announced its roadmap to a staged reopening of borders on or before December 17 if a State-wide push to lift vaccination rates is met.

 

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