Australia: Did Woman set Fire to Quarantine Hotel?


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A woman has been arrested and charged with arson in Queensland, Australia after she reportedly set fire to a hotel where she and her two kids were forced to quarantine for two weeks.

The blaze engulfed the top floor of the Pacific Hotel in the northeastern city of Cairns on Sunday morning, forcing the evacuation of more than 160 guests.

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There were no injuries, but the damage to the building was “significant” and forced authorities to relocate people to other Covid-19 quarantine facilities.

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Authorities said a 31-year-old woman lit a fire underneath her bed, after spending only a “couple of days” of the mandatory two-week quarantine inside the hotel after crossing into Queensland from another state. Before the incident, she also reportedly had caused other unspecified troubles for the staff during her stay.

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Her two children were taken under police protection, while the woman was charged with arson and willful damage, and is due to appear in court on Monday.

Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, Australia has recorded just around 2,000 deaths as it resorted to some of the world’s most draconian lockdown and quarantine measures, affecting not only international but also interstate travel, in a bid to keep infections as low as possible until a majority of the population is vaccinated.

Just as the country was finally preparing to reopen its borders to skilled migrants and students on December 1, the first cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant were detected in travelers from southern Africa, potentially derailing the plan.