One of two friends who was directed by the High Court to enter mandatory quarantine following their arrest at Dublin airport after arriving on a Dubai-based flight has tested positive for Covid-19, according to the mother of one of the women.
Niamh Mulreany (25) of Scarlett Row, Dublin and Kirstie McGrath (30) from Rialto allegedly refused to enter into mandatory hotel quarantine and were subsequently arrested for breaches to the Health Act last Friday.
The arrest and subsequent court action has now resulted into a constitutional challenge against laws requiring persons to enter mandatory quarantine on their arrival into Ireland from certain countries. The friends had been in Dubai for medical consultations.
The pair appeared at Tallaght District Court and were granted bail but remained in custody and detained at the Dochas women’s prison as the pair could not access financial funds needed for bonds and sureties.
The High Court on Sunday made orders allowing Ms Mulreany, a mother-of-one and Ms McGrath a mother-of-two to leave prison.
Mr Justice Paul Burns amended bail conditions imposed on the friends enabling them to leave prison and continue to quarantine at a designated hotel.
The judge also declined the women’s application to be allowed quarantine at their respective homes instead of the hotel so they could be reunited with their children.
Sabrina Mulreany, the mother of Niamh, has claimed that both women are now being refused access to independent Covid-19 testing.
Ms Mulreany’s mother, speaking on behalf of the friends, confirmed that both girls received an additional Covid-19 PCR test, after testing negative to a previous three and an antibody exam when they entered the women’s prison on Saturday night.
While Sabrina said her daughter’s test results have not yet been received by her, she said that Ms McGrath has tested positive. The friends are sharing a double room at the quarantine hotel where they are staying.
As a result, the parents of Ms Mulreany said that they had asked authorities at the Department of Health for independent PCR tests to be carried out on the girls on Monday evening.
The Department of Health cannot agree to the facilitation of a privately sourced PCR test
These were granted and a GP was to be allowed to enter the hotel at 7.30am on Tuesday. However, at 1.11am on Tuesday legal representatives were told that this had been stopped.
In correspondence from the quarantine hotel where the friends are staying, the girl’s parents were told, “access to the mandatory quarantine facility is not approved.”
The letter adds: “The HSE as the person approved by the Minister for Health to conduct RT-PCR tests with the applicable travellers in designated facilities under section 38 of the Health Act. The Minister has not designated or approved any person other than the HSE to conduct RT-PCR tests.
“There is no entitlement accruing to persons in quarantine to have RT-PCR tests conducted by anyone other than the HSE. In the circumstance the Department of Health cannot agree to the facilitation of a privately sourced PCR test.”
'Made examples of'
In response, Ms Mulreany’s mother Sabrina, who is a frontline worker said: “Niamh and Kirstie are being made examples of it’s as simple as that and the question has to be asked why? When those girls got onto the plane in Dubai they did not have Covid-19. The girls left Ireland on the morning of March 24 and the new rules on quarantining did not come in until March 26, two days later so why is this happening?
“These two girls are not statistics and what is happening is having an awful affect on them.”
Ms Mulreany added that the friends “are being treated worse than animals - this is a complete circus. They were left walking the streets of a foreign city for two days without any money and any help or guidance from the authorities there.
Both girls are suffering psychologically as we all are
“The girls have done nothing wrong. They didn’t break any rules and followed all guidance. Why are they being made examples of and why not those who gave vaccines to people who were not yet entitled to them?
“They checked with the airline they were travelling to Dubai with and Government authorities as to what guidelines they had to follow. They were told they were allowed to travel as long as they had negative PCR tests and medical documentation explaining why they were leaving the country. They followed all the guidelines they were told to do.
“They were kept in awful conditions in prison and left in a garda van for almost four hours in the heat prior to their court appearance on Saturday as they could not enter the court house due to Covid-19 restrictions. Both girls are suffering psychologically as we all are.”
As a result of the positive PCR test it is understood several gardaí have been told to isolate.