Coronavirus positive doctor Chris Higgins reveals worked while sick as he demands apology from Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos
The Melbourne doctor at the centre of a coronavirus scare is in a stand-off with the Victorian Health Minister after he demanded an apology for her saying she was “flabbergasted” over his decision to work while sick.
Doctor Chris Higgins, who is the father of singer Missy Higgins, was yesterday revealed as the doctor who had been diagnosed with coronavirus and had treated 70 patients while suffering from what he believed was a common cold.
But, before he was identified by the press, Ms Mikakos blasted the doctor for working through his illness.
“I’m absolutely flabbergasted that a doctor who has experienced flu-like symptoms has presented to work,” she said.
“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.”
On Ms Mikakos’ Facebook page, Dr Higgins said he was “upset” over her comments and explained why he had decided to work.
“As the doctor concerned, I have been upset about the inaccuracies and unfairness of your comments,” he wrote.
“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.
Dr Higgins accused the Minister of political grandstanding and asked for her to apologise for the comments.
“I believe you have taken a cheap opportunity for political grandstanding and would appreciate an apology,” he wrote.
But instead of apologising, Ms Mikakos said everyone has a role to play to prevent the spread of the virus.
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“But let me be very clear: these are exceptional circumstances. We are still in the containment phase of what will likely be a pandemic. So to protect the public and healthcare workers, we can’t take any chances.
“And all of us have a responsibility to do what we can to prevent the spread of this virus.”
It is understood Ms Mikakos has been in touch with Dr Higgins to wish him a speedy recovery.
Dr Higgins, aged in his 70s, had a mild cold after returning from the USA on February 29 which had almost resolved two days later, so he went to work.
Dr Higgins and his patients at The Toorak Clinic in Melbourne are required to self-isolate along with staff.
Two patients he visited in Malvern’s Mecwacare nursing home are also in isolation.
Colleagues have also started an online petition demanding Ms Mikakos apologise to Dr Higgins for implying he was “irresponsible”.
The signatories also demand she refrain from making comments that undermine the medical profession.
A letter from GPs has also reportedly been sent to Ms Mikakos and federal Health Minister Greg Hunt over the comments.
Mr Hunt on Sunday sat on the fence about the need for an apology.
“I’m not criticising anybody. At this point in time we will all be connected to people in some way, shape or form in the coming months; this is a time to come together,” he told said at Frankston Hospital.
“Today is not a day for criticism but for unity.”
Australia now has 74 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with three deaths.