Missy's dad's fury at 'cheap' virus attack
Missy Higgins' dad, the doctor in Victoria diagnosed with coronavirus, has hit back at the Victorian health minister after she said she was "flabbergasted" he continued to see patients while sick.
Dr Chris Higgins, who practices at the Toorak Clinic, has confirmed he contracted the potentially deadly virus.
It was reported he had treated at least 70 patients at his clinic and saw two others at a nursing home. Mr Higgins said he didn't imagine "for one moment" he had coronavirus.
He has asked for an apology from Minister Jenny Mikakos for what he has claimed are "unfair" and "inaccurate" comments she made and has accused her of using his case for "political grandstanding".
Ms Mikakos' Facebook page has been flooded with comments from people claiming to` be GPs or doctors criticising her comments. One said, "thanks for throwing a hard working GP under the bus".
The confirmation of Dr Higgins' diagnosis made him the 11th case in Victoria. The state's health department has now opened four specialised coronavirus testing clinics to prepare for a "likely pandemic".
Mr Higgins became unwell on a flight from Denver to San Francisco on February 27, and then flew on to Melbourne on United Airlines flight UA60, arriving on the morning of February 29.
On Monday, he went to work at The Toorak Clinic and saw at least 70 patients between then and Friday.
On Saturday, Ms Mikakos told the media of her surprise he had returned to work. She did not directly name him.
"Patients have been contacted via text message this morning, or were called this morning, they will be followed up with emails," Ms Mikakos said.
"This doctor also attended two patients at a nursing home in Malvern during that time. The two nursing home patients have been isolated in their rooms and the department is working to provide support care for these residents.
"I have to say I am flabbergasted that a doctor that has flu-like symptoms has gone to work," the state's Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said.
"I understand our medical and healthcare workers are dedicated to the work they do," Ms Mikakos said.
"But it is irresponsible for people to be going to work if they are unwell, and that is not just healthcare workers, it is everybody in the community who needs to take this very seriously."
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This is me and my papa right before he walked me down the aisle (or sheep paddock, as it were!) on my wedding day. He really is a big ol’ angel, my dad and I admire him so much. He taught me how to be patient, thoughtful and kind while still remaining mischievous and adventurous at heart. Love you to bits Pops, happy Father’s Day 😊 ... Dress: @lover Flowers: @ghostflwr
'CHEAP POLITICAL GRANDSTANDING'
But last night, Dr Higgins hit out at Ms Mikakos in a reply to a Facebook post by the minister.
He said he was "upset" about the "inaccuracies and unfairness of your comments".
"I believe you have taken a cheap opportunity for political grandstanding and would appreciate an apology," he wrote.
He claimed he was upfront with health officials about the circumstances of his diagnosis.
Dr Higgins said he had what he thought was a "mild cold" on his return from the US which had "almost resolved itself" by Monday morning and so he felt well enough to return to work.
"I hesitated to do a swab because I did not fulfil your criteria for testing but did one anyway on Thursday evening for the sake of completeness."
He said he "did not imagine for one moment that it would be positive".
The doctor received an outpouring of support over his comments, with one saying doctors around Australia "stand in solidarity with you".
"We are all flabbergasted that a fellow doctor has been treated in such a way - wishing you a speedy recovery and the strength to weather this," the user wrote.
Victorian Health authorities have been in touch with those who came in contact with Mr Higgins, urging them to self-isolate for 14 days.
Victoria's Chief Medical Officer Dr Brett Sutton told reporters there was a chance he infected some of his patients.
The Toorak Clinic has been shut down until further notice.
Federal authorities are also working to obtain the passenger manifest from the flight the man was on, so those who came in contact with him on board can be contacted, she said.
"Passengers will be contacted as soon as it is made available."
Two more cases have been confirmed in New South Wales, while a further six cases of coronavirus were reported last night, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in NSW to 36, the highest in the country.
The two new cases include a man in his 60s, who recently returned from Italy and is currently under investigation, and a second man in his 40s who is a friend of a previously confirmed case. He had travelled on return Sydney to Canberra flights on February 28.
NSW Health is asking anyone seated in rows 2-6 in the first flight (Sydney to Canberra) or rows 3-7 in the second flight (Canberra to Sydney) to self-isolate and call their local public health unit for guidance.