The Australian doctor at the centre of a recent coronavirus scare has been revealed as the father of ARIA Award-winning musician Missy Higgins.
Much of the weekend has seen fierce debate rage online regarding the practices undertaken by Melbourne GP Dr Chris Higgins, who reportedly continued to see patients at his Toorak practice, despite having tested positive for coronavirus.
According to reports, Higgins had treated 70 patients – including two in a Malvern nursing home – following his return from a trip to the US on February 29th, where it is believed that he contracted the virus.
“I’m absolutely flabbergasted that a doctor who has experienced flu-like symptoms has presented to work,” said Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos on Saturday morning.
“I understand it was very mild symptoms – perhaps he didn’t make the potential link – but we’ve now got 70 patients that have been contacted so it is incredibly important that all healthcare workers take this matter very seriously.”
Mikakos expanded on her point via a lengthy Facebook post later in the day, sharing updates in regards to the current situation, wile also offering reminders of basic methods to help fight the spread of the disease.
“As of today, there have been a total of 11 confirmed cases in Victoria. Of these, seven people have recovered and are no longer in isolation,” she explained. “The most recent case is a doctor who returned from the US last week. He most likely contracted the virus while overseas.
“We are in the process of contacting the patients he treated since returning to work at The Toorak Clinic in Melbourne. They are all being asked to self-isolate as a precaution, along with his colleagues. He also visited two patients in a nursing home. Both of them have now been isolated in their rooms and are being cared for by staff.
“The clinic has been closed for the time being. Patients who saw other doctors are not at risk and are not being asked to self-isolate.”
However, despite the campaign of fear surrounding Dr Higgins and his supposedly ‘irresponsible’ decision to work while infected, a groundswell of support has emerged for Dr Higgins, who himself responded to Mikakos’ post, requesting an apology for the “inaccurate” nature of her statement.
“As the doctor concerned, I have been upset about the inaccuracies and unfairness of your comments,” Dr Higgins wrote in a Facebook comment. “This is not the story that I told the DHSS whose job it is to relay information to you.
“I had a mild cold when I returned from the USA last Saturday morning which had almost resolved itself by Monday morning, hence my decision to return to work. I hesitated to do a swab because I did not fulfil your criteria for testing but did one anyway on Thursday evening for sake of completeness, not imagining for one moment it would turn out to be positive.
“I believe you have taken a cheap opportunity for political grandstanding and would appreciate an apology.”
At the current time, Mikakos has not responded to the furore, though took to Twitter to claim that she was not responsible for naming Dr Higgins as the doctor at the centre of the incident, but rather noted the media had done so.
Currently, the phrase hashtag #IStandWithChrisHiggins is a trending topic on Twitter, while many of those joining in on the discussion are accompanying their post with the hashtag #Flabbergaslighting to criticise the inaccuracies present in Mikakos’ original statement.
Meanwhile, Missy Higgins herself has not addressed her father’s illness, though her scheduled appearance at the “Bushfire Recovery Event” organised by Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer will not go ahead as planned.