Death of 42-year-old in Australia shows coronavirus is not an 'old person's disease', say health authorities

The death of a man in his 40s in Australia shows COVID-19 is not an old person's disease, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said.

People wearing face masks as a preventative measure against coronavirus in Sydney

People wearing face masks as a preventative measure against coronavirus in Sydney Source: AAP

The death of a 42-year old male in Australia reinforces that coronavirus is not an old person's disease, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has warned.

The man was a crew member of the Artania cruise ship, which was finally leaving Fremantle, Western Australian waters on Saturday on its way to the Philippines.

"So that is by far our youngest person that has died in Australia from this disease and a terrible tragedy for that man and his family," Professor Kelly told reporters in Canberra on Saturday.

"But it is a reminder for us that this is not just an old person's disease."

The death came on a day of relatively high fatalities, which has pushed the national total to 70.

A 74-year old man died from COVID-19 in Merey Community Hospital, Tasmania, taking the state's toll to eight. He had been a patient at the state's North West Regional Hospital.

Two more people have died in NSW from COVID-19, including an elderly man who contracted the virus while on a cruise ship, Celebrity Eclipse.

The cruise ship Artania preparing to depart Fremantle harbour on Saturday, April 18, 2020.
Source: AAP

The state's death toll stands are 28 after an 83-year-old Queensland man who was in quarantine in Sydney and a 58-year-old woman died.

Meanwhile, Victoria recorded 17 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 1319. Eight new cases were also diagnosed in Queensland overnight. There are around 6550 cases nationally.

PM confirms tracing app will not be mandatory

Prime Scott Morrison has clarified the app to help trace people who have been in contact with a coronavirus case will not be mandatory.

Taking to Twitter, he said the government will be seeking the "cooperation and support" of Australians to download the app to help health workers, protect the community and help get the economy going again.

"The App we are working on to help our health workers trace people who have been in contact with the coronavirus will not be mandatory," Mr Morrison tweeted.

In an interview on Friday the prime minister appeared not to rule out making the software mandatory if not enough Australians signed up to make it effective, drawing howls of protests from Labor and others.

Trying to allay concerns over privacy, Government Services Minister Stuart Robert insisted there will be no surveillance involved in connection with the app.

The government says a new smartphone app will help track coronavirus.
Source: AAP

It will simply digitise what health workers do now to try and trace anyone who has been in contact with COVID-19 case.

"Covid Trace ... will be available in the next week or two for Australians to use," Mr Robert told reporters on the Gold Coast.

"All Australians can have absolute assurance, from the privacy right the way to the security, right the way to the individual elements, the bits and bytes of the code, that the app is simply a health app for individuals voluntarily use to help us trace those who may have been close to someone who has been infected by the virus."

Meanwhile, the Queensland government has offered $200 million to cash-strapped airline Virgin Australia to help it through the crisis, having so far been unsuccessful in its request for a $1.4 billion loan from the Morrison government.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack welcomed Queensland's commitment.

"Sustaining Australia's aviation industry is critical to protecting livelihoods and saving lives and the Federal Government is exploring all possible avenues to keep two airlines in the air, throughout this pandemic and on the other side of it," Mr McCormack told AAP.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at

Published 18 April 2020 at 4:22pm, updated 18 April 2020 at 5:58pm