Australia’s coronavirus death toll has risen to 59 after three more deaths were recorded across the country on Easter Sunday.
The latest person to die was an 82-year-old Sydney man who contracted the virus from a confirmed COVID-19 case – not linked to the Ruby Princess cruise ship.
The man who died at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on Sunday is believed to have had a number of underlying health conditions. His passing brings the state’s fatality count to 24.
It followed the death of a woman in her 70s at North West Regional Hospital in Tasmania, bringing the state’s total to five.
“It’s again a stark reminder that this virus is deadly, it’s taken lives and as I said it will take more yet,” Premier Peter Gutwein said.
Also on Sunday, a 74-year-old man who caught the coronavirus on the Ruby Princess cruise ship succumbed to the infection in the Royal Adelaide Hospital in South Australia.
It marked the state’s fourth coronavirus death, with no new virus infections recorded for the first time in more than a month.
In confirming the man’s death, SA Health said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the man.”
Australians holidaying in India return home
A charter flight carrying 444 Australians, including 33 infants, who were stranded in India arrived in Melbourne on Sunday, just after 8 pm.
Australian company Stratos Group Aviation helped with leasing the Lion Air aircraft, while charter company Monarc Global set up an online booking system for passengers.
Supported the repatriation of 444 people who just took off on charter flight JT2846 from #Delhi for #Melbourne. The flight was organised by a group of Australians led by Simon Quinn. Thanks to @PMOIndia @DrSJaishankar @MEAIndia for facilitating. @MarisePayne @dfat pic.twitter.com/gDVOUCGRoZ
— Australian High Commission, India & Bhutan (@AusHCIndia) April 11, 2020
The Melbourne-bound flight was originally scheduled to depart India last Friday but was postponed due to problems encountered with organising domestic travel permissions for passengers.
All passengers will now have to undergo 14 days of quarantine.
Nurse Valerie Volpato from Sydney told SBS Punjabi the journey home was the “best flight of my life”.
“Everything that’s super delightfully and cosmically amazing. The children and the baby talk, the cries were an orchestral synchronised soundscape of entertainment,” she said.
Stranded SA travellers depart Singapore
A special Singapore Airlines flight with almost 200 Australians on board has finally left Phnom Penh with passengers desperate to get home amid a lockdown in Cambodia and neighbouring countries due to the coronavirus.
The embassy said in a statement that 164 Australian citizens, plus 20 permanent residents and family members boarded the flight as regular commercial options “were drying up fast”.
“So we decided to facilitate this one-off non-scheduled flight to a transit country, which then connected to a scheduled flight on the same plane to Sydney,” it said. “Passengers paid for economy and business seats.”
The embassy said it took “a lot of work to make this happen” in “challenging circumstances” adding this would also help relieve pressure on Cambodia’s healthcare system, which Australia continues to support through its aid program.
All on board are expected to go immediately into self-isolation upon arrival in Sydney.
Brendan Murphy: ‘Nowhere else I’d rather be’
While Australia is “in a good place” in the fight against COVID-19, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said the pressure must be kept up to beat the coronavirus.
And despite strict lockdowns and social distancing measures, people in the community were still transmitting the coronavirus, he told reporters in Canberra on Sunday.
Still, Dr Murphy said there was nowhere else he would rather be than Australia at the moment.
“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.”
There were 6315 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Australia as of Monday morning, according to John Hopkins University.