Scott Morrison says an aged care worker in northwest Tasmania was dishonest about their contacts amid a coronavirus outbreak in the region.
Scott Morrison says an aged care worker in northwest Tasmania was dishonest about their contacts amid a coronavirus outbreak in the region.

PM accuses healthcare worker of lying

Scott Morrison says an aged care worker in northwest Tasmania was dishonest about their contacts amid a coronavirus outbreak in the region.

Two hospitals have been forced to close in Burnie, with a COVID-19 outbreak infecting almost 100 people linked to the facilities, including 60 workers and 16 patients.

Speaking to Triple M Hobart, the prime minister said it was a classic example of why more rigorous contact tracing was needed.

"We had someone down there not tell the truth to the contract tracers about where they've been and who they've been with," he said on Friday.

"And that means a lot of people have been put at risk in northwest Tasmania.

"They had been working in the health system more broadly, the aged care system, so this has been very unhelpful."

 

His comments came after authorities revealed overnight someone who tested positive to COVID-19 had worked at three nursing homes in the northwest.

Authorities are testing all residents and staff at Melaleuca Nursing Home in East Devonport, Eliza Purton Home for the Aged in Ulverstone and Coroneagh Park in Penguin.

No virus cases have been confirmed at the homes but one resident with mild respiratory symptoms is expected to get test results back on Friday.

The worker, who was diagnosed on Wednesday, also did shifts at Burnie's now-closed North West Regional Hospital and North West Private Hospital.

State Public Health Director Mark Veitch said his office gave no specific information to the prime minister but contract tracing around the worker had been expanded after authorities were alerted to new information.

"We learned they had worked before that period that we thought was the risk period," he said.

"So we went back ... got further information and identified that this person may have had symptoms a little earlier in April than we had originally anticipated."

Premier Peter Gutwein announced police would strictly enforce stay-at-home orders in the northwest and road blocks and checkpoints would be set up.

Testing will also be ramped up in the region as well as in far northwest and west coast communities.

It's hoped the emergency department at the Burnie hospitals will reopen on Friday after the facilities were shut on Monday to undergo a deep clean.

About 1200 healthcare workers from the hospitals are in two weeks quarantine to mitigate the outbreak.

Australian Defence Force medicos and an AUSMAT team, usually used for international humanitarian relief, have been flown in from the mainland to get services back online.

Six people have died from the virus in Tasmania, with the state's number of overall virus cases reaching 180 on Thursday night.

 

Virus concern for Tasmania nursing homes

There are concerns coronavirus may have been spread to three nursing homes in northwest Tasmania after it was a revealed a healthcare worker who tested positive did shifts at the facilities.

The person, who was diagnosed on Wednesday, worked at two hospitals in Burnie which are at the centre of an outbreak in the region.

It was revealed on Thursday night the worker also completed shifts at Melaleuca Nursing Home in East Devonport, Eliza Purton Home for the Aged in Ulverstone and Coroneagh Park in Penguin.

No virus cases have been confirmed at the homes, but one resident with mild respiratory symptoms is expected to get test results back on Friday.

Federal Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck said Commonwealth teams will provide the homes with additional staff where needed and ensure supplies of personal protective equipment are adequate

"We will have teams on site at each facility to start testing all residents and workers (on Friday)," Senator Colbeck said.

"It is vital that we act quickly to understand the situation and get on top of any potential cases."

Burnie's North West Regional Hospital and North West Private Hospital were shut on Monday to undergo an unprecedented deep clean.

More than 80 of the state's 180 COVID-19 cases are directly linked to an outbreak at the hospitals, with dozens of workers among them.

The state government hopes the facilities' emergency departments will reopen on Friday.

About 1200 healthcare workers from the hospitals are in two weeks' of quarantine to mitigate the outbreak.

Australian Defence Force medicos and an AUSMAT team, usually used for international humanitarian relief, have been flown in from the mainland to get services back online.

Six people have died from the virus in Tasmania.


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