Just days after 78-year-old James Kwan died of coronavirus, Australia has recorded its second virus-related death.
A 95-year-old woman died in hospital on Tuesday March 3, after contracting the virus at an aged care facility in Macquarie Park in Sydney’s north, as reported by SBS.
An aged care worker at the same facility was diagnosed with coronavirus earlier this week, and became the third Australian to be infected via human-to-human transmission. Another 70-year-old resident at the Dorothy Henderson Lodge facility has also been diagnosed with the virus.
“This much-loved staff member had not travelled. She had not been overseas. She had not been to any of the hot spots around the world. So, that raises the question, how did she end up with coronavirus,” said NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard.
According to the Australian Government Department of Health, the current number of confirmed cases in Australia stands at 41. This is the figure supplied by the government at time of publication.
Dental practices run short on protective face masks
While panic buying is still in full swing in Australia, dental clinics are now facing “critically low levels” of medical supplies. According to the ABC, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) has estimated that dental practices around the country could run out of surgical masks within four weeks.
“Without surgical masks, dentists cannot treat patients safely and we run the risk of people going without treatment,” said Eithne Irving, the deputy chief of the ADA.
Health officials have called for the public to stop buying and wearing masks. Not only is there a shortage for healthcare workers, who genuinely need the protective equipment, but there is only so much a mask can do to protect the general public from COIVD-19.
“There are limits to how a mask can protect you from being infected,” Dr. Michael J. Ryan, executive director of the health emergency program at the World Health Organisation said. “The most important thing everyone can do is wash your hands, keep your hands away from your face and observe very precise hygiene.”
02/03/2020: Australia records first coronavirus-related death of a 78-year-old man
A 78 year-old man from Perth is the first person to die of coronavirus in Australia. James Kwan was infected while on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, and he passed away March 1 in his home state after being transferred from the quarantine facility in Darwin last week.
Kwan’s wife, Theresa, who is also being treated for COVID-19, released a statement on Sunday afternoon and asked for privacy at this time.
“My husband passed away peacefully knowing that his family loved him,” she said.
As of 6:30am March 2, there are now 29 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia. According to the Department of Health, 15 of these cases have reportedly recovered from the virus. 10 of these cases are associated with the Diamond Princess cruise ship and each individual is currently receiving treatment in their home states.
The government extends travel bans
The federal government has also extended its travel ban to visitors from Iran for the next 14 days, as reported by SBS. The ban was previously only placed on visitors from China.
Australians who have recently travelled to Iran are also now required to self quarantine for two weeks upon their return. This comes after a rise in confirmed cases in Iran, which currently sits at 978, as reported by the ABC.
Three people who recently returned from Iran to Australian have tested positive for coronavirus. Authorities have also been attempting to contact passengers who travelled from Doha to Sydney last week after a female passenger was found to have COVID-19.
The woman began to experience symptoms 24 hours after landing in Sydney but did not seek medical assistance for a further six days. Passengers on the Qatar Airways flight QR908 are being urged to self isolate and contact their GP if symptoms present.
The Louvre shuts its doors
On Sunday, March 1, the iconic arm museum announced that it wouldn’t be opening due to coronavirus related fears.
The Louvre released a statement regarding the closure, saying “The Louvre cannot open this Sunday, March 1. Museum staff met to discuss the health situation and the COVID-19 prevention measures taken by the museum following instructions from the competent authorities.”
Another meeting will be held on Monday local time to reassess the situation.
According to CNN, over the weekend, the French government also cancelled all public events of more than 5,000 people within confined spaces.
28/02/2020: Australian Government Activates Emergency Plan for Coronavirus
The Australian government has started to roll out its emergency plan in preparation for the further spread of coronavirus.
According to The Guardian, the federal government emergency response to COVID-19 includes everything from the closure of schools and public transport services to self-isolation of potential cases and enforced quarantine of infected people. Depending on how things escalate, the government could also force people to work from home.
Meanwhile, the state government’s emergency plans include using sports stadiums as quarantine sites and ordering entire suburbs or cities to receive vaccinations, once it has been developed.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced yesterday that the government has also extended the travel ban on visitors from China.
Morrison addressed reporters on Thursday afternoon to discuss Australia’s next step, The Guardian reported.
“There is no need for us to be moving to having mass gatherings of people stop: you can go to the football and the cricket and play with your friends down the street, you can go out to the concert and you can go out for a Chinese meal,” he said.
“You can do all of these things because Australia has acted quickly, Australia has got ahead of this at this point in time. But to stay ahead of it we need to now elevate our response to the next phase.”
As the pandemic progresses, doctors are worried about how the healthcare system will manage the extra load.
Simon Judkins, the former president of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine told the ABC that hospitals already struggle during flu season, let alone a pandemic.
“We do operate most of our hospitals either at or over capacity — that’s why we have ambulances ramping out the front of hospitals and patients spending a lot of time in emergency departments,” Dr. Judkins said.
“There is not a lot of additional capacity in our system as it is, so it’s not like we can just open up new wards and get new staff — we need to work out how to most effectively use the resources that we’ve actually got available.”
There are over 82,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world at the moment, and more than 2,800 people have died.
The current health crisis is evolving rapidly. If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.