After spending a month in lockdown in Pakistan from 19th March 2020, the father of two returned from overseas and spent 2 weeks of mandatory quarantine in Melbourne. Now he is spending another 2 weeks of self-isolation due to interstate travel at his home in Hobart.
“For many people, it is a 14-day ordeal, for me it is unending,” says Qasim Mehmood who has now spent the last several weeks in multiple isolations in Australia and overseas.
The Australian nurse says that he went to Pakistan on 6th March 2020 on a personal visit for two weeks.
“I haven’t been to my ancestral country since I was a teenager, so I was really looking forward to this trip,” Qasim told SBS Urdu.
- Australia requires 2-weeks of mandatory quarantine of Australian citizens and permanent residents from overseas travel
- Qasim spent 4 weeks of isolation in Pakistan, 2 weeks quarantine in Melbourne and currently spending 2 weeks of self-isolation in Hobart
- Australian Nurse will meet his children on Eid day
He says that there were initial concerns about the COVID-19 spreading in few countries at that time but the idea of international lockdown never came across.
“My trip was for two weeks and I knew that I will return home safely, in case something happens.”
Unfortunately for Qasim, he missed his flight by a day as the ban on international flights to Australia started from 22nd April 2020, while his flight was the next day on 23rd April 2020.
For the next month, the Australian nurse stayed in Pakistan where the lock-down started due to the pandemic on 19th April 2020.
Before leaving his hometown Hobart, Qasim told his two daughters that he will be returning soon after his 2-week trip.
“It was never on the cards that I will spend that much time without my children. My daughters were okay for me to leave them for two weeks, but not more.
“I missed them every day while I was in isolation there. It is not easy to explain to your children why their father can’t be with them for such a long time.”
Being a Muslim, Qasim has been fasting during the current Islamic month of Ramadan.
“When I returned to Australia, it was the first day of Ramadan. So, I am fasting since I have come back home.
Ramadan is all about meeting family and friends, food and festival, but Coronavirus has simply taken that experience away.
Finally, after a whole month of isolation in Pakistan, an international flight was announced to come to Australia from Pakistan.
“I was really happy that I will be able to meet my children.”
The isolation journey for Qasim continued. The Australian government requires 2 weeks of mandatory quarantine for Australian citizens and permanent residents returning from overseas.
But Qasim had to return to his hometown Hobart, which meant another two weeks of quarantine due to interstate travel. “The journey just kept increasing," he lamented.
“Being a nurse, I understand the hygienic and safety concerns and follow them too.
“But this was too overwhelming. I was back in Australia but had to spend another four weeks without meeting my children.”
Qasim requested the state authorities to let him self-isolate instead of spending another two weeks of quarantine in Tasmania, which was allowed.
Qasim’s self-isolation will end this weekend.
He will finally meet his children on the day of Eid (day to celebrate the end of the fasting month).
“It will be double happiness, meeting my kids and celebrating Eid with them.”
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