News Coronavirus Australian toll rises as Tasmania records second fatality in as many days

Australian toll rises as Tasmania records second fatality in as many days

ruby princess inquiry records
The Ruby Princess in Sydney in March. An inquiry into its docking resumed on Tuesday. Photo: Getty
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Tasmania has recorded its second coronavirus death in as many days, with a man in his 80s dying at the Royal Hobart Hospital on Monday night.

His death came after a woman in her 80s died on Monday at a hospital in Burnie, in the state’s north-west.

As at 10am Tuesday (ADST), Australia’s coronavirus death toll was 19.

Both Tasmanian deaths are associated with travel on the Ruby Princess cruise ship.

The Ruby Princess has become a major source of COVID-19 spread in Australia after infected passengers were allowed to disembark without adequate health checks.

Three crew with severe coronavirus symptoms were taken to hospital on Sunday night. Three more crew were ferried to hospital on Monday.

Six people from the Radiance of the Seas, which is offshore near Port Kembla, were transferred to shore on Monday afternoon.

On Tuesday, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller urged foreign cruise ships lingering in Australian waters to return to their home ports immediately.

Mr Fuller said nine cruise ships were either docked in NSW or waiting off the coast. Only three of them are registered to NSW addresses.

“There are thousands of people, potentially, in cruise ships off our coasts that aren’t members of our state and if we take them in, then that could well flood our system unnecessarily,” Mr Fuller said on Tuesday.

“All the hard work we’ve done could be over.

“We will continue to allow them to have fuel and food … but it is time to go to your port of origin.”

By Monday night, there were 285 coronavirus infections in NSW linked to cruise ships, including 189 from the Ruby Princess.

Mr Fuller said health authorities would continue to treat stranded cruise passengers on humanitarian grounds. That included two pregnant women from the Ruby Princess who have asked to come ashore.

“We are receiving people sensibly back into NSW. They get the required healthcare, then go into mandatory isolation,” he said.

Following the Ruby Princess fiasco, NSW has banned all cruise ship passengers from disembarking until new protocols are in place.

Mr Fuller has said no cruise passenger will enter NSW without his personal approval.

In Western Australia, hundreds of passengers from the cruise ship Artania were flown back to Germany at the weekend. A further 29 are being treated for COVID-19 in a private hospital in Perth.

Hundreds more passengers are in quarantine aboard ships docked in Fremantle or on Rottnest Island.

WA Premier Mark McGowan earlier urged two ships to leave Australian waters – and called on the Navy to help.

“Its home port is actually Germany, so what we’re saying to the ship is ‘you need to leave’, and we’re saying to the Commonwealth ‘you need to help us get that ship to leave’,” he said.

WA, which has closed its borders to non-residents, says 84 per cent of its coronavirus cases are linked to travel, whether on a cruise ship, interstate or overseas.

“[Some] 32 per cent have been directly related to cruise ships,” Mr McGowan said.

In Tasmania, Premier Peter Gutwein again implored people to follow strict social gathering guidelines and stay home.

“Social distancing and abiding by the rules will save your life, it will save your family’s life, it will save lives in our community,” he said.

“This is a very sad time. It serves as a warning to us all that these are going to be tough and difficult times,” Mr Gutwein said on Tuesday.

“Most Tasmanians have put in place the measures that they need to and most are doing what they can in terms of social distancing and importantly in terms of self isolating.

“We’ve had unfortunately our second death, there is a message in that for all of us: This virus is deadly. This virus will kill you.

“Take the necessary steps that you can. Utilise the rules to your advantage. Social distancing and abiding by the rules will save your life, it will save your family’s life, it will save lives in our community,” he said, referring to strict two-person gatherings around Australia which came into effect from midnight on Monday.

As of 6.30am on Tuesday, the federal health department confirmed 4359 of COVID-19 in Australia, with another 266 new cases in the past 24 hours.

  • Australian Capital Territory 78
  • New South Wales 2032
  • Northern Territory 14
  • Queensland 689
  • South Australia 305
  • Tasmania 65
  • Victoria 821
  • Western Australia 355

-with AAP