Ms D’Ubios had posted on social media before leaving the Pan Pacific Hotel in Perth’s CBD warning she would “walk out”, and calling on someone to come and help her.
“If they don’t remove me from this hotel room today I am going to be walking out of here, if there is somebody brave enough in Perth to drive by and pick me up because I am going to be walking down there,” she said in a video titled ‘WE THE PEOPLE!!’
“I’m telling those security guards if they lay a hand on me every single one of them will be subpoenaed and charged.”
Ms D’Ubios said anyone helping should “not worry about the fine” because it “would not actually stand up in a court of law”. As a result of her alleged quarantine breach, she now faces a fine of up to $50,000 or 12 months in jail.
Fronting media on Sunday, WA Health Minister Roger Cook said he was “disappointed and angry”, reserving the brunt of his rage for the returned traveller.
“It should not have happened and we will do everything possible to ensure that it does not happen again,” he said.
He promised a review of the circumstances leading up to the breach, including the decision not to place Ms D’Ubios into ‘high-risk’ hotel quarantine.
Mr Cook said Ms D’Ubios had arrived in Perth from Madrid, via Doha, and had been in “regular contact” with medical and wellbeing teams, and had gone to Royal Perth Hospital on two occasions.
Ms D’Ubios had claimed on social media that she had been suffering allergies from being in a hotel room with carpets, curtains and no fresh air, and said she had gone to hospital for heart palpitations and low blood pressure.
Police were called when Ms D’Ubios threatened to leave the hotel on Saturday morning, and a security guard followed her out of the hotel, but the guard lost sight of her and Mr Cook conceded “there was a small window between the woman leaving the hotel and police arriving”.
Ms D’Ubios had earlier refused COVID tests, which raised questions as to why it took so long for police to put out the call to find her.
WA Police Assistant Commissioner Paul Steel said police deliberated “long and hard” before calling for public help to track people down.
“There is a balance to be had between alerting the person who is on the run and balancing that against the public risk to determine when is the appropriate time,” he said.
Mr Steel said while Ms D’Ubios was on the run “strategies were worked on” so police could quickly investigate, but “once those immediate actions had been exhausted, a call for public assistance was activated immediately”.
He said police rushed to the hotel when told Ms D’Ubios planned to leave, arriving “within 5 minutes”. There are processes in place with WA Health over the power of security guards to detain travellers trying to leave quarantine, Mr Steel said, adding ‘citizen’s arrest’ powers could also apply.
“This is one in over 20,000 international arrivals who’s actually got out, and as much as we’d wish that it hadn’t happened at all, she was located within a relatively short period of time, the risk to the community has been abated, and thankfully she has returned a negative test,” Mr Steel said.
Despite Ms D’Ubios claiming she wanted to leave several times on social media Mr Cook said authorities didn’t monitor the social media of the more than 2000 people in hotel quarantine, “but clearly we need to review those measures to ensure that we can take the necessary steps”.
“I’m incredibly angry at this woman and the circumstances that we have,” Mr Cook said.
“Western Australia – the West Australian public – provided this woman with safe haven from a disease which has killed well over a million people around the world.
“So the fact that she would take advantage of that hospitality and, quite frankly, put herself and many people at risk is quite unacceptable.”
WA Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Robyn Lawrence said Ms D’Ubios had been discharged from Royal Perth Hospital back to hotel quarantine, but would not comment on her conditions.
However, Dr Lawrence said there was nothing alerting WA Health that Ms D’Ubios “could not be safely managed in hotel quarantine, the same as 20,000 other arrivals.”
Dr Lawrence said it was “not uncommon” for people in hotel quarantine to refuse COVID tests, however noted they could be charged, fined, and face extra quarantine days as a result.
She said WA Health would review its processes to ensure they were “as tight as they can be” and adjust them if needed.
Dr Lawrence said while international travellers were “our greatest risk” of bringing COVID-19 into the community, the risk of an international traveller actually having the disease was about 1-2 per cent.
Cameron is the homepage editor for WAtoday.