Two hospitals closed in Tasmania as Australia’s coronavirus deaths reach 59

Two hospitals will close and more than 1,000 people will be placed into quarantine in Tasmania, as the national coronavirus death toll rises to 59.

Premier of Tasmania Peter Gutwein speaking to media in Sydney, Friday, March 13, 2020.

Premier of Tasmania Peter Gutwein speaking to media in Sydney, Friday, March 13, 2020. Source: AAP

Tasmania will close and “deep clean” two hospitals at the centre of a coronavirus outbreak in the state’s northwest. 

The North West Regional Hospital and North West Private Hospital in Burnie will close from 7am on Monday, it was announced by Premier Peter Gutwein. 

All hospital staff and their households, more than 1,000 people in total, will be placed into quarantine for two weeks. 

“I am sorry we need to do this but at the end of the day we need to get on top of this,” Mr Gutwein told reporters. “We need to ensure that we can crush this virus at its source, and with this outbreak we need to take these steps.” 

Forty-nine virus cases are linked to the outbreak at the hospitals, including 35 health workers.

Coronavirus fatalities in Australia increased by three to 59 people on Sunday with the death of a 74-year-old man in hospital in South Australia after contracting the virus on the Ruby Princess cruise ship, the death of a woman in her 70s in Tasmania and the death of an 82-year-old man in Sydney.

'No place in the world I would rather be'

Meanwhile, Australia has put itself in a "position of strength", but must keep up the pressure to beat the disease, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy says.

"There is no place in the world I would rather be than Australia at the moment," he told reporters in Canberra on Sunday.

But he said people in the community were still transmitting the virus.

"That is why we have to keep our pressure on and make sure that we don't end up like countries in the world that you have all seen on the news."

"We are in a good place ... but we have to maintain that good place".

Australia's Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra.
Source: AAP

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg warned it would be "very dangerous and unrealistic" to remove social distancing restrictions too soon.

Mr Frydenberg said restrictions across Australia will stay in place "for as long as it takes".

"We have got to take the medical advice," he told ABC television.

"I think it is very dangerous and unrealistic to move ahead of medical advice that has served Australia well."

Prof Murphy said there were now 6,289 confirmed coronavirus cases in Australia.

South Australia, meanwhile, reported good news on Sunday, with no new virus cases recorded for the first time in more than a month.

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.

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Published 12 April 2020 at 4:58pm, updated 12 April 2020 at 5:13pm