Asylum seeker’s mother begs to be removed from detention after daughter catches deadly blood infectioninfectie
The Australian Home Affairs Department has denied assaulting the Biloela family’s youngest daughter detained on Christmas Island, whose potentially fatal blood infection has been linked to untreated pneumonia.
Three-year-old Tharnicaa is being treated at Perth Children’s Hospital after being evacuated from the island with her mother Priya Murugappan.
Her mother says Tharnicaa was ill for nearly two weeks and medical contractors at the immigration detention center repeatedly refused to take her to the hospital.
Tharnicaa Murugappan, (pictured in bed), the youngest daughter of the Biloela family detained on Christmas Island, has been medically evacuated to Perth with a suspected blood infection
“I want to thank everyone for their love and well wishes,” Priya said in a video message released Tuesday.
“I hope Tharnicaa can now get the help she needs. Please help us get her out of jail and take her to Biloela.’
Family supporter Angela Fredericks said Tharnicaa suffered dangerous temperature spikes during the trip to Perth and has since been diagnosed with a blood infection due to ‘untreated pneumonia’.
“They keep doing tests because they still can’t get her white blood cell count where they should be,” she said.
“They are now treating the pneumonia while looking for other sites of infection.”
Her mother Priya Murugappan (pictured) said medical staff at the immigration detention center repeatedly refused to take her daughter (pictured) to hospital
Nadesalingam Murugappan, his wife Priya and their Australian-born children Kopika, five, and Tharunicaa, three (pictured together) are Tamil asylum seekers currently being detained on Christmas Island
The Home Office and the Australian Border Force said Tharnicaa had received medical treatment and daily checkups on Christmas Island, in line with medical advice.
“Once the ABF was informed by the attending physicians that the minor required medical treatment in Western Australia, the minor was transferred to a hospital in Western Australia,” an official said.
“The Australian Border Force strongly denies all allegations of inaction or mistreatment of persons under its care.”
Ms. Fredericks said medical facilities for detainees on Christmas Island, far off the coast of WA, were inadequate and dangerous.
“To my knowledge, this would usually show up as a chest infection, which would then be treated,” she said.
“And that would prevent it from getting pneumonia. If it turned into pneumonia, that would be treated to prevent it from entering the blood supply.
“We have had two delays in treatment here, which has led to this crisis point.”
The family was taken from their home in the rural Queensland town of Biloela and placed in immigration detention in 2018, and has been on Christmas Island since August 2019.
Priya (right) and Nades (left) met in Sydney before getting married and settling in Biloela, Queensland, where they had their two daughters
The department said inmates had access to dedicated nurses, doctors and referrals to specialists, and that health care was “broadly comparable” to that on the mainland.
International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) is contracted to provide primary and mental health care in the detention center.
IHMS has declined to say when Priya first requested that her daughter be taken to the hospital, or how many times she has asked.
It referred all questions to the Interior Department.
Supporter of the Bronwyn Dendle family said IHMS initially dismissed Tharnicaa’s symptoms as a cold, “despite persistent high temperatures and vomiting and diarrhea.”
A family advocate confirmed that Tharnicaa had been unwell for 10 days and may have developed a suspected blood infection from ‘untreated pneumonia’
Kopika, six (right) and three-year-old Tharunicaa (left), were born in Australia but are not considered Australian citizens by the federal government
Asked about the Tamil family on Tuesday, Home Secretary Karen Andrews said “a series of resettlement options” are being negotiated.
“I can’t comment publicly on that at this time because I don’t want to disrupt those negotiations,” she told reporters.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was quick to add that she was not referring specifically to the Tamil family, but “all cohorts, across all possible groups.”
Mr Morrison said while the family’s struggle to stay in Australia continued in court, they would continue to receive “all medical care”.
WA Prime Minister Mark McGowan said Tharnicaa would remain in hospital in Perth until she recovered.
“I urge the federal government to resolve the issues related to this family as soon as possible,” he said.
The Home Office and the Australian Border Force said Tharnicaa had received medical treatment and daily checks on Christmas Island (pictured)
Priya and husband Nades settled in the Queensland town of Biloela after arriving separately from Sri Lanka by boat.
Tharnicaa and her sister Kopika, 6, were born in Australia.
The federal government has vowed never to permanently resettle anyone who arrives illegally by boat, and does not consider the girls to be Australian citizens.
The family has been detained since 2018 and on Christmas Island since August 2019.
Labor Senator Kristina Keneally, who visited the family on the island earlier this year, has urged the government to let them return home.
Supporters will hold a candlelight vigil outside Perth Children’s Hospital Wednesday night.