The coronavirus death of an elderly Tasmanian has prompted the state’s authorities to quarantine all medical and surgical staff at a Burnie hospital.
Health Minister Sarah Courtney on Friday confirmed the death at the North West Regional Hospital, which takes the island state’s total COVID-19 death toll to four.
“This is serious and I urge all Tasmanians to continue taking steps we need to take to ensure we keep the community safe,” she told reporters.
Tasmania has 111 recorded cases of coronavirus.
Ms Courtney announced North West Regional staff would go into quarantine for two weeks, with those unable to do so at home to be offered separate accommodation.
Staff will be tested for COVID-19 within 24 to 48 hours, but regardless of their test result will still have to quarantine.
“This is a conservative approach and it is in the best interests of the staff, the community and our patients,” Ms Courtney said.
The move comes as health authorities investigate a virus outbreak across two hospitals in Burnie.
Three more health staff from the North West Regional Hospital and North West Private Hospital tested positive on Thursday night, taking the total to 15 workers.
Twenty-six cases on Thursday were linked to the facilities, with a handful of patients also testing positive.
Ms Courtney also announced that the state health department would take over management of the North West Private Hospital to ensure a “comprehensive approach”.
The new efforts come as Tasmanians heading to holiday spots this Easter long weekend have been sent home by police, with 15 people turned back in the past 24 hours.
Police have forced more than 35 people to return home, and three people have been arrested or summoned to appear in court over COVID-19 related offences.
“This Easter, if you are away from your primary residence and try to go to your shack and you don’t have a valid excuse, you will not only be turned around, but you could be charged and face a substantial fine,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Jo Stolp said.
Tasmanians who leave their homes unnecessarily could be fined up to $16,800 or get six months’ jail.
Helicopters are monitoring people’s movements, hovering over regional communities including Bicheno, Friendly Beaches, Coles Bay, Dunalley and Primrose Sands.
Officers are also patrolling on foot in areas such as Bridport, St Helens, Longford, Great Lake, Port Sorell, Somerset and Smithton.
Originally published as Fourth death from COVID-19 in Tasmania