Coronavirus in Australia: Cases spike again overnight


NSW Health has confirmed to news.com.au that the man died in a Sydney hospital overnight.

It comes as the number of coronavirus cases in Australia has jumped yet again. Authorities in the state announced two more cases had been confirmed in the state – that came just hours after another two cases were announced.

It brings the state’s total to 38, the highest in the country, with 488 cases under investigation.

Meanwhile, Victoria is responding to a “likely pandemic” by opening four specialised coronavirus testing clinics after it emerged Dr Chris Higgins, Missy Higgins’ dad, unknowingly saw patients before he was diagnosed with the virus himself.

The total number of coronavirus cases in Australia now stands at 76, with 14 in Queensland, 11 in Victoria, seven in South Australia, three in WA, two in Tasmania and one in Northern Territory. Two people have died, while 22 people have recovered, authorities said on Saturday.

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On Sunday morning, NSW Health said a female health care worker at Ryde Hospital in her 30s, who is a contact of a previously confirmed case from an aged care facility, had contracted COVID-19. Ryde is in the same hot spot zone on Sydney’s north shore as a clutch of other cases.

A female in her 50s, who is a contact of a previously confirmed case, has also been confirmed with the disease.

People are urged to go about their lives as normal – without hoarding food or toilet paper – as the health department can organise supplies for those caught short by self-isolation.

“Most of the cases we have had so far, luckily at this point, have been quite mild, so the symptoms have recovered much quicker,” deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly said on Saturday.

An extra 260,000 masks will be immediately released from the federal stockpile to primary health networks, Professor Kelly announced.

“We realised that personal protective equipment for our healthcare workforce and our aged care workforce is absolutely fundamental. We need to make sure that they are kept safe,” he said.

The virus has spread to more than 90 countries.

NEW SOUTH WALES

The two new NSW cases include a man in his 60s, who recently returned from Italy and is currently under investigation, and a second man in his 40s who is a friend of a previously confirmed case. He had travelled on return Sydney to Canberra flights on February 28.

NSW Health is asking anyone seated in rows 2-6 in the first flight (Sydney to Canberra) or rows 3-7 in the second flight (Canberra to Sydney) to self-isolate and call their local public health unit for guidance.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian urged anyone feeling unwell to stay home and said the state’s health system was on high alert.

“We are anticipating this virus will have a concerning phase of a number of months ahead of us,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Meanwhile, Epping Boys High School will reopen on Monday after initial fears it could remain closed for up to a fortnight when a student tested positive for COVID -19.

The 16-year-old student is the son of a Ryde Hospital healthcare worker who had contact with the 53-year-old male doctor who has the coronavirus. A NSW Health spokeswoman on Saturday said authorities are still investigating how the boy contracted the virus, as they continue to wait for the mother’s test results.

NSW Health confirmed Epping Boys High School was closed on Friday. Picture: Brook Mitchell/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

A statement from the NSW Department of Education posted on the school’s Facebook page says students and staff identified as “close contacts” of the boy have been asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

A close contact is a person who has spent significant time face-to-face (15 minutes) or in an enclosed space (two hours or more).

“The school will promote the need for staff and students to remain at home if they are unwell. Those who become unwell will be sent home and asked to remain away until they are well,” the statement posted on Saturday reads. The school will be thoroughly cleaned before reopening on Monday and says it will implement “the department’s infection control procedures”, promoting healthy hygiene habits, upholding daily cleaning routines, and providing hand sanitiser for staff and students on school grounds.

VICTORIA

It comes as the doctor in Victoria who was diagnosed with coronavirus after treating up to 70 patients has been identified as Australian musician Missy Higgins’ father.

The Herald Sun has identified Dr Chris Higgins as the Melbourne doctor from the Toorak Clinic, who is at the centre of new reports after he was confirmed to have the potentially deadly virus last night.

It was reported he had treated at least 70 patients at his clinic and saw two others at a nursing home.

Missy Higgins with her father Chris Higgins. Picture: Facebook

Missy Higgins with her father Chris Higgins. Picture: FacebookSource:Supplied

Mr Higgins addressed the report on Facebook, replying on a virus update posted by Victorian health minister Jenny Mikakos, who told the media today she was “flabbergasted” he returned to work. She did not directly name him.

Mr Higgins said he didn’t imagine “for one moment” he had coronavirus.

Dr Chris Higgins' post on Facebook.

Dr Chris Higgins’ post on Facebook.Source:Facebook

Victorian Health authorities have been in touch with those who came in contact with him, urging them to self-isolate for 14 days.

Victoria is responding to a “likely pandemic” by opening four specialised coronavirus testing clinics on Saturday, at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, The Alfred hospital and The Austin and at Box Hill Hospital.

“In recent weeks I have been advising the community about our health system preparedness as we gear up for what is a likely pandemic,” Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said.

“We do expect we will have a significant increase in demand as this virus spreads in the community.”

“People will be checked for symptoms and they will have a swab collected if that’s required,” she said.

“(Patients) will present at the ED triage, and will then be sent to the screening clinic for testing. In coming days, some hospitals will establish separate entrances.”

There have been 3000 coronavirus tests in Victoria and more than 2500 negative results.

– with AAP



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