Heartwarming moment dying woman hugs her sister after she was granted coronavirus travel exemption so they could meet one last time before she dies
- Christine Archer was denied permission to fly to Australia on four occasions
- Ms Archer’s sister Gail Baker was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in late March
- Australian Government eventually allowed Ms Archer to travel from New Zealand
- The sisters tearfully embraced for first time in six years in NSW on Wednesday
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
A woman who has weeks to live has embraced her sister for the first time in six years after she was granted a coronavirus travel exemption so they could meet one last time before she dies.
Christine Archer was denied permission to fly from New Zealand to Australia to visit her terminally ill sister Gail Baker on four occasions due to travel restrictions introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But following media attention into their story and persistence, the Australian Government approved Ms Archer’s request to fly into Sydney and travel up the New South Wales coast to see her sister.
Ms Baker was diagnosed with incurable ovarian cancer in late March, after both nations moved to ban international travel. She has perhaps weeks to live.
Christine Archer, right, and her sister Gail Baker cry as they are reunited in Bowraville, New South Wales on Wednesday
Ms Archer spent one-week isolating in a hotel before testing negative for coronavirus.
Return travellers in Australia are normally required to spend 14-days in hotel quarantine.
Family friends then drove the retired nurse to Bowraville, about five hours north of Sydney.
Ms Archer hugged her younger sibling in the front garden of Ms Baker’s home on Wednesday.
It was their first reunion in six years.
‘Words can’t explain how I feel, to be honest,’ Ms Archer said.
‘I’m just so happy that I finally got to be here and be with her.
‘The last two weeks have been the hardest or the longest two weeks of my life.’
Ms Archer was surprised that her persistence paid off but is adamant Australia made the right choice in allowing her to remain with her sister during her final days.
Ms Archer spent one-week isolating in a hotel before testing negative for coronavirus. Family friends then drove the retired nurse to Bowraville, about five hours north of Sydney
‘I wondered whether the Australian government had any compassion at all with their rejections,’ Ms Archer said.
‘I honestly don’t know what they were thinking. I know it’s an awful time at the moment with the virus… but, I mean, there are some things you’ve got to be a bit lenient on and I felt this was one of them.
‘I didn’t think I was ever going to see Gail again. That would’ve been the worst thing in the world if that had happened.’
Australia’s Department of Home Affairs relented on Ms Archer’s travel application after it allowed the New Zealand Warriors rugby league team to relocate from Auckland in preparation for the Australian football competition restarting next week.
The department declined to explain its change of heart on the sisters’ reunion, saying in a statement it did not comment on individual cases.
Ms Archer (right) was denied permission to fly from New Zealand to Australia to visit her terminally ill sister Gail Baker (left) on four occasions due to travel restrictions introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic
New Zealand has largely succeeded in its goal of eliminating the virus. It has reported no new infections over the past four days and most of the people who contracted the virus have recovered. About 1,500 people have been reported as having the virus including 21 who died.
Australia has had similar success in slowing the virus spread although NSW remains the worst-affected state.
Australia expects New Zealand will become the first international destination with which regular passenger travel will resume because of the low risk of infection.
Australia has recorded more than 7,000 virus cases and 101 deaths. Australia’s population is five times larger than New Zealand’s.