Coronavirus: Families defend charged Queensland women over Melbourne trip 'lie'

Tom Flanagan
·News Reporter
·4-min read

Family members of two of the three women charged with fraud by police after they allegedly lied to return to Queensland from coronavirus-hit Melbourne have spoken out in their defence.

Diana Lasu, 21, Olivia Muranga, 19 and a 21-year-old Algester woman have not only faced widespread scrutiny from the public after Lasu and Muranga tested positive for coronavirus, but were lambasted by Queensland authorities on Thursday.

“They went to extraordinary lengths to be deceitful and deceptive,” Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll told reporters.

Lasu’s mother, Aida, who is currently in hotel quarantine with her family as a direct result of her daughter’s actions, has hit out at the outrage that has ensued since the women returned from Melbourne via Sydney, allegedly lying their way through border checks.

Olivia Muranga (left) and Diana Lasu (right) have sparked fears of widespread community transmission in Brisbane and Logan.
Olivia Muranga (left) and Diana Lasu (right) have sparked fears of widespread community transmission in Brisbane and Logan. Source: Today

"Imagine if you have something like that, you don't have any support and people treat you like a serious criminal," she told the ABC.

"Nobody wants to give you support. She's very sad. She is my daughter. She's not an animal."

Muranga’s brother Eddie also criticised the response to the women’s actions, insisting it was simply “a mistake”.

“It’s not something that we sat down and thought about yeah, it’s a f***ing mistake,” he told Channel Nine’s A Current Affair.

Accused’s brother claims racial prejudice

The brother questioned whether there would have been the same reaction if those charged over the alleged actions were white.

“I reckon if someone else did this yeah, that wasn’t of colour, you’d be f***ing protecting them. You wouldn’t be doing all of this s***... talking all of this s***,” he said.

Eddie said his sister was struggling to breathe at times because of the virus.

The women flew into Brisbane on July 21, yet despite developing symptoms visited several locations in the south Brisbane area and Logan before getting tested.

They had been in the community for eight days until they received a positive COVID-19 result.

Police believe the women had attended an illegal party of up to 30 people in Melbourne’s CBD during their visit and were understood to have received fines from Victorian authorities.

The virus scare has prompted widespread contact tracing while thousands have since gone to get tested.

People line up in their cars and on foot to get COVID-19 tested at Parklands Christian College.
People line up in their cars and on foot to get COVID-19 tested at Parklands Christian College. Source: AAP

Queensland’s first community transmission in months

Queensland recorded an additional three new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, while one of the women’s sisters tested positive previously.

The unidentified 21-year-old has so far tested negative to COVID-19.

The cases are the first community transmission cases in the state since May, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk “absolutely furious” over the matter.

"We need people to tell the truth... We do not want a second wave here. We do not want widespread community transmission,” she said.

Among the locations visited were shopping centres, restaurants, a school and a church, while aged-care centres have been closed.

All three women, who are currently in quarantine, are due to appear at the Brisbane Magistrates Court on September 28.

Queensland Police have charged them all with one count each of providing false or misleading documents under the Public Health Act, and fraud.

The maximum penalty the women can face for fraud is five years imprisonment, while they are facing a potential fine of up to $13,345 for their border declaration breaches.

Another criminal investigation involving the women is also proceeding, which is unrelated and not connected to their alleged travel to Victoria.

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