A Melbourne man has admitted to threatening to infect hospital staff with monkeypox when he was not given a way to safely get home after receiving treatment.
On Sunday night, Avron Woolf presented to Melbourne’s Austin Hospital in an ambulance. At the time he was experiencing severe pain due to the infectious virus, theHerald Sunreports. But after receiving treatment, he said he was discharged without any means to return home.
“I just wanted a safe way home,” he told the publication.
“I was trying to keep the general public safe.”
The altercation escalated and he was escorted out of the hospital by security guards. Police were also called to remove him from the premises.
Victoria Police said officers were called to Studley Road in Heidelberg following reports a man in the emergency department was causing trouble and refused to leave at about 9.15pm. They confirmed that police spoke to the man before he was removed from the hospital.
“The man, who was spitting on his hands and rubbing them everywhere, including on the door handles of the divisional van, left the scene a short time later when he was picked up by someone in a vehicle,” Victoria Police said in a statement to news.com.au.
Although Mr Woolf admitted that he threatened to spit on the door handle of a police car, he clarified he was not proud of his behaviour.
In a statement to the Herald Sun, a spokeswoman for Austin Health said Mr Woolf should have been offered transport to safely get home and was “incorrectly told” by staff that wasn’t an option.
“We’re very sorry this patient had a negative experience and will be reaching out to them directly,” she said.
“There is a range of supports for patients who cannot get home after a hospital stay.”
In Australia, monkeypox has been declared a Communicable Disease Incident of National Significance. According to the most recent data from the Department of Health and Aged Care, there are 57 confirmed cases in Australia, as of August 4. This includes 31 cases in NSW, 22 in Victoria, two in the ACT, one in Queensland and one in South Australia.
Currently NSW and Victoria have received their first allocated doses of the monkeypox vaccine, with an additional delivery slated for later this year. Although the vaccines are being ordered by the Federal Government, state and territory leaders will decide on the need based on their individual circumstances.
In Victoria, the vaccines can be accessed by anyone who has had prolonged contact with another infected person and those deemed being of a high-risk of contracting the virus. As it stands, this includes lab workers studying monkeypox, and sexually active gay or bisexual men, and sex workers with high-risk clients.
However, NSW Health states that “many people will not be eligible during the initial rollout,” in order to ensure the most vulnerable people will be able to access the vaccine first.
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