An elderly woman with a pre-existing medical condition has died of the coronavirus in NSW, taking the state’s toll to 23 and the number of nationwide deaths to 56.
Health authorities on Saturday confirmed 44 new cases of COVID-19, taking the state total to 2857, as NSW residents were implored to stay home over the Easter long weekend and continue social distancing measures.
The 91-year-old woman died overnight and her source of infection remains unknown.
“It is always tough when a family member passes away and this is the toughest of times,” NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said on Saturday.
About 30 people in NSW are currently in intensive care.
NSW Health on Saturday also confirmed that at least 46 crew members of the ill-fated Ruby Princess cruise ship berthed at Port Kembla are suffering from COVID-19, as are 19 Qantas staff members.
Hundreds of Ruby Princess passengers were last month permitted to disembark the ship in Sydney without adequate checks and have since come down with COVID-19.
Of those passengers, 15 have died across Australia while ill crew members have been transported to NSW hospitals.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Saturday thanked the community for doing the right thing over the Easter period and not flocking to NSW holiday hotspots.
She reiterated everyone around the world would have to socially distance until a COVID-19 vaccine is secured, but shutdown measures may be tweaked. Health authorities will reassess NSW shutdown policies monthly.
“I know for many families across NSW this is the time when they may have gone to a place of worship at church or gathered together in family homes. Unfortunately, this is not allowed tomorrow,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“We don’t want anybody unintentionally getting sick on Easter Sunday.
“The biggest risk to us in NSW is making sure we suppress the community-to-community transmissions, those people who might have the disease but don’t know they have it (and) give it to anybody else.”
NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys on Friday implored people to continue following social distancing measures over Easter.
“The movement of people with caravans and holidaymakers with surfboards and camping gear – it is almost non-existent,” Mr Worboys said.
Despite that, police issued $60,000 worth of on-the-spot fines on Friday, including a $5000 ticket to a 24-year-old driver in Ashcroft who, angered by a move-on direction, allegedly spat at an officer.
The driver of a Sydney-registered car found near Wagga Wagga, a Victorian man towing a trail bike from Wollongong to Deniliquin and a Surry Hills woman who said “it’s a free country” to explain being out, were all issued $1000 fines.
Arts Minister Don Harwin was on Friday forced to resign his portfolio after it was revealed he had decamped to his Pearl Beach holiday home.
The minister on Thursday returned to his primary residence in Sydney and was issued a $1000 fine by police.
Mr Harwin argued he relocated in mid-March before the order was made but Ms Berejiklian said his resignation was appropriate.
“I have to back the police. Everybody in NSW is trying to do the right thing and we have to support the police in that process,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Originally published as New virus death in NSW amid Easter warning