Ruby Princess was the 'likely' cause of Tasmania's outbreak, says premier

The Ruby Princess cruise ship departs Port Kembla in Wollongong, NSW. Source: AAP

The Ruby Princess has been described as the "ground zero" for a deadly coronavirus outbreak in northwest Tasmania, as the state confirms a 12th death.

The ill-fated Ruby Princess cruise ship is the "most likely" cause of a deadly coronavirus outbreak in northwest Tasmania, a state government report has revealed.

Eleven of the state's 12 virus deaths have been in the region, the latest an 86-year-old woman on Wednesday, Premier Peter Gutwein confirmed.

Mr Gutwein released findings of an investigation into the cluster, in which scores of health workers and hospital patients in Burnie tested positive.

"What the report confirms is that most likely that "ground zero" for the outbreak at the North West Regional Hospital was the Ruby Princess," he said.

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein speaks to the media.
Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein speaks to the media.

Of the state's 219 cases ,146 have occurred in the northwest.

Mr Gutwein said many health care staff at the North West Regional Hospital had symptoms while working but were unaware they had the virus.

"This is simply a case of people going about their lives, going about their jobs," he said.

"This dreadful set of circumstances has ensued and has wreaked havoc and misery on so many people.

'Not about blame'

"Nobody should use this report to ascribe blame to anyone. What we have is a dedicated health workforce, what we have is a highly infectious disease."

Tasmania's first three fatalities, including two people at the North West Regional Hospital, had been passengers aboard the Ruby Princess.

The North West Regional Hospital and its private counterpart were shut earlier this month to undergo a deep clean, although some services have since resumed.

Twenty-one of the nation's virus deaths were passenger on the cruise ship, which allowed disembarkation in Sydney before test results were returned.

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.

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