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Jiskar Issa’s letter to Premier Daniel Andrews

I lost my beloved brother, aged 32, from a sudden heart attack. He spent 2 weeks in ICU, however the damage to the brain was too severe and we lost him on 21 April 2020. He tested COVID-19 negative. Throughout, we were rarely allowed to see him. We went for days unable to see him and we were only allowed very limited access only once they knew his time had come. The team at Frankston Hospital ICU ward did all they can to facilitate us, however their hands were tied and most of the time they did not know what they can and can’t do. HOWEVER, we understood why and accepted the reasons this was the case. I did not send you an email requesting exemptions or consideration to change that.

Yesterday was his funeral in which 10 people attended. We are a family of six, I am married and so is my sister. So we could only have two other people, two of my uncles. No one else could attend to farewell my dearly beloved and departed brother. HOWEVER, we understand and accepted the reason this was the case. I did not send you an email requesting exemptions or consideration to change that.

My mother sat in the services howling whilst we all sat at least 1.5m away.

It has been so difficult. I can’t explain in words Premier Andrews how difficult it has been seeing our parents grieve, whilst not been able to provide them with the support they so desperately need. Where they need someone to sit with them and console them, we have been doing so via phone. It is not the same.

My brother was dearly loved and had many friends and family reaching out to us, but all we can say is “you can’t”.

I am reaching out to you now because my family is desperate. My sister, brother and I are in desperate need for consoling, but we have not be able to as we need to play that part for our parents. Where people would normally come to us and put their arms around us, we have not be able to have that, plus we had to play that role for our parents.

Given the continuous low numbers of new cases in Victoria and given the green light given by NSW, a state that has been considerably more affected than what we have been, I ask and beg of you to reconsider your stance regarding allowing up to 2 people to visit.

I am looking at the direct impact of the isolation when associated with grief and thinking at what stage does the impact of isolation affect the health, wellbeing and lives more than COVID-19 itself. I know there are support systems in place to assist, but it is not the same.

When the whole country was in shutdown, we can say “Well all Australians are affected the same”. But now it makes it particularly harder when it seems it is only us that cannot go see our families.

I am not even taking into consideration the people that have lost their jobs and would be in a deep depressive state, only to not have family support. Or the person who has just being diagnosed with a serious or terminal illness. Or the person that has just had a miscarriage. Or the person that is susceptible to depression and needs family/friend support.

There must come a time where the balance flips and the risks to Victorian lives for not having that support network becomes more dangerous than the pandemic.

So I ask and beg of you to reconsider your stance regarding visiting friends and relatives. Allowing 2 people who would obviously need to be healthy and had been doing the right thing in isolation to visit friends, families and loved ones.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and would highly appreciate a response.

I just wanted you to see it from a perspective that supports the restrictions, but believes it is time to relax minor aspects as I believe it has got to the stage where the impact of isolations on people’s lives has become worse than the pandemic.

Regards, Jiskar Issa

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