David Moffet reports on Australian dentist’s prison term for COVID breach
Natalia Nairn, a Ukrainian-born dentist and power-lifter working in Perth, Western Australia, has been sentenced to two months in prison for breaching COVID-19 quarantine requirements and treating 41 patients – despite knowing the health risk posed by the virus.
Nairn (above right) flew back to Perth from Canberra on 16th June via Sydney. She left home on seven or eight occasions to treat patients when she should have been in self-isolation as required by law. Magistrate, Matthew Walton dismissed Dr Nairn’s argument that she was “feeling fine”, and during sentencing in the Joondalup Magistrates Court, he told Dr Nairn her offending constituted a “contemptible disregard” for the rules.
Magistrate Walton added that Dr Nairn could have been responsible for spreading the virus through the community, and that she posed a significant risk to the health and safety of West Australians.
Dr Nairn treated 41 patients and even revisited the dental clinic after police had tried to contact her at her home about her then alleged breach. She was charged with eight offences of failing to comply with a direction under the Emergency Management Act, and pleaded guilty on 21st October 2020.
Magistrate Walton concluded that Nairn’s opinion that she posed no risk because she was feeling fine was patently ridiculous and staggeringly naive, or at the very least irrelevant. He went on to say that Dr Nairn knew the risks posed by her action, and in fact wore PPE while treating patients “to fundamentally protect herself”.
Magistrate Walton described the crimes as deliberate and at the upper range of seriousness. He said she had risked potentially freshly introducing COVI D-19 into the state, through 41 patients who could have then spread it through their own networks and contacts.
Magistrate Walton took into consideration Dr Nairn’s remorse, early guilty plea and the fact she may be deregistered as a dentist, however, he said the offence warranted a jail term. Nairn was sentenced to an immediate two months in prison, as well as another five months potential prison term suspended for a period of eight months.
David is a dental practice coach and keynote speaker. His blog, The Ultimate Patient Experience, can be found by visiting https://www.theultimatepatientexperience.com/