12 Apr 2020

Tasmania to close two hospitals to 'stamp out' Covid-19

8:54 pm on 12 April 2020

Two hospitals are closing in Tasmania because of the coronavirus outbreak forcing more than 1000 people into quarantine for two weeks.

North West Regional Hospital in Tasmania will be closed from tomorrow due to a coronavirus outbreak.

North West Regional Hospital in Tasmania will be closed from tomorrow for a deep clean after a coronavirus outbreak there. Photo: Google Maps

Tasmania's Premier Peter Gutwein said the North West Regional Hospital and North West Private Hospital in Burnie will close because of the coronavirus outbreak.

All staff and members of their households - more than 1000 people - will go into quarantine for two weeks.

The hospitals will be closed from 7am tomorrow for a deep clean.

"I'm sorry that we've needed to do this, but at the end of the day we need to get on top of this," Gutwein said.

"We need to ensure that we can crush this virus and its source."

State Health Commander Kathryn Morgan-Wicks said 22 people had tested positive for Covid-19 in the past two days, with 21 of those cases linked to the outbreak at the North West Regional Hospital.

"I want to be clear that closing a hospital is not something that we do lightly and it is something that has not been done in Tasmania in our living memory," she said.

Patients from the North West Regional Hospital will be sent to the Mersey Community Hospital, but a "limited few" patients will be sent to other hospitals in the state that can provide the care they need.

Patients that will be transferred include those in the Spencer Clinic, medical and surgical wards.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

Health Minister Sarah Courtney said treatment plans for cancer patients had been reviewed and patients would be contacted so their care could continue.

Courtney said it was a very "stressful" and "anxious" time for the hospital staff and patients, but the "unprecedented" measures were necessary to limit the outbreak.

"This gives us the best chance of stamping out the virus in this community," she said.

Of the 133 coronavirus cases in Tasmania, 61 are linked to the north-west coast and 35 are healthcare workers at the hospitals.

Five people have died of coronavirus in the state, with the latest death confirmed this morning.

Returning travellers 'biggest risk' to Australians in coming days

Fifty-nine people have now died of Covid-19 across Australia, with New South Wales with 24 deaths the hardest hit state. At least 17 of the deaths were of cruise ships' passengers.

Figures show 3141 people in Australia have recovered from the virus, leaving 3103 cases currently. There are 259 people receiving hospital care nationally and 81 of them are currently in Intensive Care Units.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said Australia was "in a good place" but could not afford to relax social-distancing measures now, with community transmission capable of spreading the virus rapidly.

"We have had a continual reduction in the number of new cases each day," he said.

Professor Murphy said the "biggest risk" to Australia in coming days and weeks was returning travellers.

Australians are currently banned from travelling overseas and the borders are closed to non-residents, but they are open for those Australians overseas who can find their way home.

On arrival in Australia, they have to spend a mandatory two weeks in quarantine.

"Two thirds of our cases in Australia are returned travellers or tourists, mostly around citizens coming back," he said.

"In fact, it is likely the new cases we will see over the next week will be returned travellers."

More than 100 people from the Covid-19 stricken Greg Mortimer cruise ship touched down in Melbourne today, going straight into 14 days of quarantine. Thirteen of those were New Zealand passengers who flew on to Auckland this afternoon where they will be tested and quarantined.

In Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews announced the state of emergency will be extended for another four weeks until at least 11 May.

He said there had been another three cases of coronavirus confirmed overnight, bringing Victoria's total to 1268.

It is the fewest number of new cases in the state since early March.

The death toll remains at 14 with 28 people in hospital and 16 of those in intensive care.

The Premier also unveiled a $60 million package to support mental health services.


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