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Mother of woman who sparked national COVID-19 outrage claims daughter did not travel to Melbourne

The defiant mother of Diana Lasu (pictured) has sensationally claimed her daughter never travelled to Melbourne

The defiant mother of Diana Lasu (pictured) has sensationally claimed her daughter never travelled to Melbourne

The defiant mother of a young woman who has sparked coronavirus panic in Queensland has sensationally claimed her daughter never travelled to Melbourne. 

Diana Lasu, 21, and Olivia Winnie Muranga, 19, allegedly lied on their border declarations about where they had been when they arrived in Brisbane from Melbourne via Sydney on July 21. 

Days later they felt sick but carried on working, socialising and visiting restaurants and cafes while waiting for their test results – which came back positive. 

The pair, along with another unidentified 21-year-old woman, have been charged with one count each of providing false or misleading documents and fraud after allegedly providing false information on arrival to Brisbane.  

But Ms Lasu’s mother, who is in hotel quarantine as a close contact, emphatically denied her daughter had done anything wrong.

‘She didn’t go to Melbourne, she went to Sydney,’ she told Nine News on Thursday. 

‘I don’t have any apologies for anyone – believe me.’ 

Olivia Winnie Muranga

Diana Lasu

Diana Lasu (right), 21, and Olivia Winnie Muranga (left), 19, allegedly lied on their border declarations about where they had been when they arrived in Brisbane from Melbourne via Sydney on July 21

She instead pointed the finger at her daughter’s friend, who she said had been to Melbourne.

‘If you know, yourself, you have the virus – why didn’t you directly go to the doctor?’ she said, referring to Muranga. 

Lasu and Muranga remain in Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital under police guard, partly for their own protection.    

Meanwhile, footage has emerged showing Muranga casually ordering a drink at the Cowch Dessert Cocktail Bar on Brisbane’s Southbank with a friend in the hours after she was tested for the virus on Monday. 

The venue is one of 11 visited by the three women while infectious. 

Pictured: Olivia Winnie Muranga. She, Lasu and an unidentified family member have become the first people in Queensland to test positive for COVID-19 since May

Pictured: Olivia Winnie Muranga. She, Lasu and an unidentified family member have become the first people in Queensland to test positive for COVID-19 since May

Medical workers evacuate a resident from the Epping Gardens aged care facility in Melbourne on Thursday

Medical workers evacuate a resident from the Epping Gardens aged care facility in Melbourne on Thursday 

INFECTED WOMEN’S ALLEGED ITINERARY 

July 21 – Olivia Winnie Muranga flies into Brisbane from Melbourne via Sydney on July 21 with Diana Lasu and an unidentified friend

July 24 – Muranga, a cleaner, allegedly calls in sick to Parklands Christian College in Park Ridge, south of Brisbane after going to work for two days

July 25 – Muranga goes to the doctor and is told to get tested

July 27 – She finally gets tested, but is spotted getting a drink with a friend within hours at the Cowch dessert cocktail bar on Brisbane’s Southbank 

July 27-29 – Muranga is allegedly active in the community again 

July 29 – Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announces two women who allegedly lied on their declaration forms to enter the state have tested positive for COVID-19

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young called the pair ‘reckless’ and said she was ‘very disappointed’. 

July 30 – Three women are charged with one count each of providing false or misleading documents and fraud 

‘Two cocktails hardly seems worth all this pain,’ Arif Mendes, who owns a restaurant Muranga visited, told A Current Affair.

‘People say we’re in this together… well clearly not for some people, that’s disappointing.’ 

Before that, she had allegedly gone to work for two days at Parklands Christian College in Park Ridge, south of the city before calling in sick.

She went to the doctor on Saturday and was told to get tested immediately, but she allegedly waited until Monday to do so. 

As long lines of worried people waited on Thursday to get tested at a pop-up clinic set up at the college, Ms Muranga’s brother admitted her alleged actions were a ‘mistake’, but claimed she had been unfairly targeted because of her race.

He said his sister waited several days in between experiencing symptoms and getting sick.

‘Some days she couldn’t even breathe out of her airways and s**t,’ he told the program via telephone. 

When told dozens of people could now be infected because of her alleged actions, the brother said it ‘was not something we sat down and thought about’.

He then claimed the criticism his sister was receiving had been intensified because of the colour of her skin. 

‘It’s a f***ing mistake,’ he said. ‘I reckon if someone else did this that wasn’t of colour, you’ll be protecting them – you wouldn’t be doing all of this s**t.’  

Queensland Police on Thursday afternoon said three women had been charged for allegedly providing false information on their border declarations.

A 19-year-old Heritage Park woman, a 21-year-old Acacia Ridge woman and a 21-year-old Algester woman were all charged with one count each of providing false or misleading documents and fraud. 

The women could be fined $13,345 or sent to jail for a maximum of five years. 

Footage has emerged of Muranga casually entering the Cowch Dessert Cocktail Bar on Brisbane's Southbank with a friend (pictured) and ordering a drink

The bar is one of 11 visited by the three women while infectious.

Footage has emerged of Muranga casually entering the Cowch Dessert Cocktail Bar on Brisbane’s Southbank with a friend and ordering a drink

Police said the trio are now cooperating with officers and Queensland Health officials.

The women will appear at Brisbane Magistrates Court on September 28.

‘There is no further information available at this time in relation to the ongoing criminal investigation,’ a statement read.  

The 11 Queensland locations visited by infected pair

The pair took flight VA863 from Melbourne to Sydney and flight VA977 from Sydney to Brisbane, 21 July

Parklands Christian College, Park Ridge, 22-23 July 2020 9.30am-6pm

Madtongsan IV Restaurant, Sunnybank, 23 July 2020 7-9pm

Heeretea Bubble Tea Shop, Sunnybank, 23 July 2020 9.25pm

YMCA Chatswood Hills Outside School Hours Care, Springwood, 23-24 July 2020 All

Primary Medical and Dental Practice, Browns Plains, 24 July 2020 3.30-3.50pm

Thai Peak Restaurant, Springfield, 26 July 2020 6.30-9pm

Cowch Dessert Cocktail Bar, Southbank, 27 July 2020 All

P’Nut Street Noodles, Southbank, 27 July 2020 All

African Grocery Shop, Woodridge (Station Rd), 28 July 2020 All

Primary Medical and Dental Practice, Browns Plains, 28 July 2020 12.25-12.30pm

Chatime Grand Plaza, Browns Plains, 28 July 2020

Muranga allegedly went to work for two days at Parklands Christian College in Park Ridge, south of Brisbane. Pictured are people lining up at the college on Thursday to get a COVID-19 test after a pop-up clinic was set up

Muranga allegedly went to work for two days at Parklands Christian College in Park Ridge, south of Brisbane. Pictured are people lining up at the college on Thursday to get a COVID-19 test after a pop-up clinic was set up

Police previously alleged the women were lying to investigators about their movements.

‘What we have seen in these instances are [alleged] deliberate acts of deception,’ Queensland Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said.

‘The way our borders operate cannot prevent that. It is incredibly important that everyone who comes into Queensland, is accurate in terms of the declaration. In this instance, it is not a matter of identity, there is no false identity.

‘It is about not declaring where people have been.’

Police investigators and health authorities will analyse the women’s mobile phone data to track their movements. 

A police source has meanwhile alleged the teenagers threw a party for about 20 people at their accommodation in Melbourne earlier this month, the Brisbane Times reported.

Victoria Police issued infringement notices to all in attendance at the party after being called to reports of a ‘disturbance’. 

Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said police were confident everyone who had been to the Melbourne party had now been identified. 

Police on Thursday revealed 40 people have been caught lying to authorities while crossing the Queensland border.  

 

‘From the beginning of this, we have issued well over 1,100 infringement notices and 40 people have made false declarations at our borders,’ Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said. 

Ms Carroll said she was ‘very disappointed’ with the alleged behaviour of Muranga and Lasu, and their unidentified travel buddy. 

She said the three women have been served court notices. 

Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said the pair would face court. 

It was earlier reported that one of the women cooperated with Queensland authorities in contact tracing since she arrived back in the state.

The second woman had allegedly refused to share details of her travels over the course of the last week.   

‘I’m very worried about the second individual who has not been cooperative and has not shared where she’s been, so we haven’t been able to contact those venues,’ Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young said.   

Queensland Police on Thursday said the three women who have been charged are now cooperating with QPS and Queensland Health officials. 

Muranga works as a cleaner at Parklands Christian College in Park Ridge (pictured), which is functioning as a coronavirus testing facility

Muranga works as a cleaner at Parklands Christian College in Park Ridge (pictured), which is functioning as a coronavirus testing facility

Legal firm Creevey Russell Lawyers Crime and Misconduct division lawyer Craig van der Hoven said anyone who knowingly transmits COVID-19 without taking precautions could face up to two years behind bars.

Queensland on Thursday recorded three new coronavirus cases, including two linked to a previously identified Sydney cluster.

The pair had dined at the coronavirus-stricken Apollo restaurant and tested positive to the deadly respiratory infection overnight.

Between them the pair visited 11 different venues in Brisbane while infected with COVID-19

Between them the pair visited 11 different venues in Brisbane while infected with COVID-19

They have been praised for choosing to self isolate at home upon returning to Queensland, limiting their risk of contributing to community transmission. 

‘We’ve seen that today, its sensible to close the border to anyone from greater Sydney,’ Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young agreed.

The third case was a man in his 20s who returned from the United States.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said this is ‘the best scenario we could have hoped for’.   

During a press conference on Thursday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the new cases confirmed they made the right decision in closing the borders

During a press conference on Thursday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the new cases confirmed they made the right decision in closing the borders

The three new cases are unrelated to Muranga and Lasu.  

Muranga allegedly also visited a Thai restaurant in Springfield on Sunday and a Southbank cocktail bar on Monday. 

Authorities have described the border crossing as the ‘perfect storm’. They are examining whether the women visited the Free Pentecostal Church of Australia in Springfield.

All aged care homes in Brisbane’s Metro South region have been ordered to lock down to stop a potential spread as a result of the women’s actions. 

Australia's coronavirus cases have dramatically spiked after the first wave of cases was all but beaten

Australia’s coronavirus cases have dramatically spiked after the first wave of cases was all but beaten

Muranga is a cleaner at Parklands Christian College in Park Ridge.

The school’s principal Gary Cully confirmed a coronavirus-infected cleaner worked for three days last week.

‘The staff member was on site last week and then rang in sick and then that’s when the trace program started,’ Mr Cully told The Courier Mail.

‘As far as I’m aware they were not symptomatic while they were onsite and then called in sick the following day and then the next week were tested.’

People line up in their cars and on foot to get COVID-19 tested at the Parklands Christian College on Wednesday

People line up in their cars and on foot to get COVID-19 tested at the Parklands Christian College on Wednesday

A man delivers cleaning equipment to a COVID-19 screening clinic at the Parklands Christian College in Logan

A man delivers cleaning equipment to a COVID-19 screening clinic at the Parklands Christian College in Logan

Shopping centres, restaurants, a school, and a church they visited will shut while authorities scramble to conduct contact tracing. 

The incident prompted Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to announce all Sydneysiders will be banned from entering the state from Saturday.

‘There will be a thorough police investigation here but now we have to act as a community and in the areas where the chief health officer says need to be closed, will be closed and I urge people in those areas when that list goes out later on today to please ensure that if you are feeling sick you must go and get tested,’ she said.

Queensland residents returning will have to isolate in a hotel for 14 days at their own expense. 

One of the women attended the Orion Springfield Central in Ipswich, south-west of Brisbane, on Sunday where she dined at the Peak Thai restaurant about 6.30pm.

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