A Today host has broken down in tears during a tragic interview with a Queensland man whose mother died while he was in hotel quarantine waiting to be by her side.
Anthony McCormick raced to Australia from Canada to be with his dying mother after she was diagnosed with cancer just three weeks ago.
He was granted an exemption to leave hotel quarantine in NSW, however Queensland Health would not grant him entry to the state.
Now in his second day in hotel quarantine, Mr McCormick revealed he never got to say goodbye to his mother as she died overnight, with him now stuck in a small room to grieve in isolation.
"I thought we might get another week," he told Channel Nine's Today show as he fought back tears.
"She was basically put on blood transfusions for as long as she could stand it until I could get there.
"She was very upset that I couldn't get in there and see her. That was really what she was hoping for.
"The situation is I've got 12 days in this room now to sort of process this thing on my own."
Mr McCormick, originally from Cairns, told the program he could not touch or see anybody as host Allison Langdon began to break down.
"It's me and these four tiny walls for the next 12 days," he continued.
Mr McCormick said there were many sides to the story, with his mum desperate to see him before her death and his stepdad now also left to grieve alone.
"Had I known what I know now and the impossibility of it, I would have been far better off staying in Canada, to be honest, where my wife is, freedom to get outside and so forth," he said.
"It's really turned bad in a whole lot of ways for everyone involved."
Today host fights back tears
Langdon's voice broke as she told Mr McCormick they had no idea of the devastating news ahead of the interview.
"We thought we were going to try and hopefully get you out to see your mum in time," she said.
"To hear that news and to see you alone...."
Mr McCormick said he had to jump through a number of hoops just to get to Australia.
He had to return a negative Covid test within 72 hours of his last connecting flight, which he said was a mission in itself as he lost 12 hours in that window because of the time between a connecting flight.
"That was an exercise in precision to get that done," he said.
"There's almost no flights going to Brisbane by the way from the west coast of North America.
"Everything goes through Sydney and I suppose that's because of the reduced passenger demand."
Mr McCormick said flights that would have got him directly to Brisbane would have cost between $15,000 and $28,000.
"I suppose I've been economically forced to land in Sydney," he said.
Queensland Health 'stayed silent'
Mr McCormick said NSW had granted him an exemption to fly out of Sydney to Brisbane on the proviso he could return a negative Covid test.
He also had to arrange a commercial air charter that cost $9000 as commercial airlines would not fly him.
Mr McCormick said NSW Health was communicative and proactive while Queensland Health "were silent".
"It wasn't until I landed and I had to start chasing them up to get things moving," he said.
"I didn't receive a single phone call from Queensland Health... yet NSW were constantly on the phone to me, calling the hotel room.
"The point I want to make right now is this point about compassion. It is supposed to be compassionate policies. I think these policies are very confused about what compassion means."
Langdon was baffled by Mr McCormick's story, saying there was a football game in Queensland on Wednesday night where people in the crowd weren't wearing masks.
"That's okay, that's fine, yet we can't find a way, this long into the pandemic, to let loved ones see a dying relative, or in Anthony's case, not get there in time," she said through tears.
Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young told reporters on Wednesday Mr McCormick had only been in Australia for a short time.
"We've been working with the NSW authorities to look at what can be done to assist him," she said.
"He only just arrived, unfortunately. This is absolutely tragic that he's lost his mother so quickly."
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk added the state had increased its exemption units in the hope of speeding up the process of applications.
"They're humans, they're trying their very best and they realise that these are real people with real families, real issues, they're not just pieces of paper, they're people," she said.
"They're trying to process them and keep Queenslanders safe, but process them in a timely manner, and unfortunately, in this case, it just didn't occur in time.
"Our hearts go out to him ... to lose someone so close is just awful"
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com