Coronavirus: Breakers star Tom Abercrombie granted at-home isolation due to his children's health needs

Star basketballer Tom Abercrombie says his family was allowed to isolate at home, rather than in a Government-run hotel, because two of his children have complex behavioural and medical needs. 

The Breakers player says his family has faced a backlash - but the decision isn't a case of favouritism by Government officials. 

His wife and three young children, two of whom are autistic, were in Adelaide, South Australia until recently.

"I won't go into too much detail about what our kids' special medical needs are. Suffice to say they both have significant and complex medical needs, both behaviourally and medically," Abercrombie told Newshub.

When his family left Australia, a medical exemption was sought so they could isolate at home rather than a Government-run facility.

While awaiting approval, the family was at the Naumi Hotel in Mangere, an isolation facility. However, they've since been allowed to isolate at home. 

Some critics have suggested they received special treatment, but Abercrombie says that's not the case.

"We're incredibly grateful that they're able to be granted that but in no way was that because of who I am or who we are," he says.

"We have received a lot of backlash - and that's just the disappointing thing in how the situation has been portrayed."

Tom Abercrombie (centre).
Tom Abercrombie (centre). Photo credit: Getty Images

Autism New Zealand CEO Dane Dougan says being out of routine can cause complications for people with autism.

"There needs to be flexibility in the system for our community. With the autistic community, getting people out of their comfortable environment can be really, really difficult," he says.

Epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker says exemptions should only be dished out sparingly. 

"You can obviously make any exemption work from a safety point of view if you put enough resources into it, but I think the principle should be that we have a very high bar for allowing any exemption."

The Government says there is an "extremely high threshold" for approving them and that "exemptions are rare".

Since July 2020, a total of six exemption applications have been approved for at-home isolation.

"In hindsight, we would not have brought the family over with us, but at the time we thought that was the right thing for our family," Abercrombie says.

He says his main concern is his family's safety, and now that he's assured of that, his focus will turn to the court and winning some basketball.