opinion

"I'm livid." After my father's funeral in South Africa, I'm now in isolation for Christmas.

I'm sorry I was so judgemental. 

Back then, I was scathing of those selfish people travelling during a pandemic. Risking the safety of everyone in Australia who had responsibly heeded the call to vaccinate and stay home. 

Serves them right to be stuck in quarantine. Good riddance! Until it was me.

Watch: The horoscopes in isolation. Post continues below.


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As first-generation immigrants, my husband and I made a life for ourselves in Sydney. It has been a trying 20 years raising two pre-teen children with absolutely no family support. 

Until you have experienced being geographically separated from the ones you love, I don't believe you'll ever appreciate the tremendous sacrifice this entails.

Almost one month ago, the dreaded middle of the night phone call came. 

Without warning, my fit and healthy beloved father had suddenly passed away in South Africa. 

It had been two and a half years since I had seen him, given COVID had brought the world to a standstill. I was grateful at the time that a flight via Singapore could be found, with the obligatory COVID test before departure.

I had been in South Africa for only a few tumultuous days of grieving, when the Omicron news erupted. 

There was a mad rush to re-book flights for fear of how the world would react. Within hours, virtually every major transit country slammed shut. Flights were unceremoniously cancelled. Airline call centres could not be reached.

After two weeks of being trapped in South Africa, with no idea of when commercial airlines would resume travel to Sydney, the Australian Government arranged a repatriation flight (at my expense) to Darwin. I have since heard of others that waited months to get home from other destinations.

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Today is day four of my mandatory 14 day quarantine at the Howard Springs facility in Darwin.

I'm livid that I'm here. I'm double vaccinated, followed all the rules and passed the required COVID test to fly home.

The personal financial expense of the quarantine aside, the physical and emotional toll of this experience is almost too much to bear.

Considering my vaccination status, I should be in Sydney with my husband and children, where I'd be content to complete isolation in the comfort of my home. 

I can't help but feel disillusionment for the predicament that I find myself in. The endless anxiety and stress of finding a way home and being locked up in a foreign place, has left little time to process the grief of losing my Dad. 

Many of the people here have shared similar stories of desperately needing to visit elderly or dying relatives while the window of opportunity exists. How much longer can this insanity continue? 

My anguish is even more compounded this week with the news that NSW has scrapped mandatory quarantine for vaccinated international travellers. 

This is of no benefit to me here in Darwin, given I arrived on a repatriation flight that is subject to a two-week quarantine regardless.

Christmas this year is going to look very different for my fellow 'inmates' and I. 

It will be the first holiday away from my children. They have already been subjected to an avalanche of uncertainty, no doubt compounded when it's usually a time of festivity and family tradition.

There may be some who would consider my reaction somewhat melodramatic. I'm truly grateful to be back on Australian soil. But this experience is not for the faint-hearted.

I know now that mandatory hotel or government facility quarantine is not the answer. It's a barbaric punishment for many at their weakest and the contradictory rules of the various states and territories is simply unsustainable.

We may baulk at the politicians who make snide remarks about the various Premiers and their differing approaches to the pandemic. Ultimately, it's a political chess match with simple, tax-paying Australians like me the pawns. There can be no winners.

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