News Coronavirus ‘Cough fine’ extended beyond emergency workers as NSW’s COVID-19 toll hits 29

‘Cough fine’ extended beyond emergency workers as NSW’s COVID-19 toll hits 29

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The toilet paper wars left shelves empty and supermarket workers blitzed with abuse. Photos: Getty/AAP
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A $5000 on-the-spot fine for spitting and coughing on NSW health workers has been expanded to include other essential workers as the state’s coronavirus death toll hits 29.

Police will be able to fine people who target all types of workers, not just those in emergency services or healthcare.

The retail workers’ union said its members had “borne the brunt of a huge upsurge in customer abuse” during the pandemic.

“The reports of supermarket and other retail workers being coughed and spat on over the past weeks are becoming disturbingly common,” Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association NSW/ACT secretary Bernie Smith said in a statement on Sunday.

“These are our neighbours stocking our shelves and manning our cash registers.

“They are also your friends’ sons and daughters, and your colleagues’ partner or parent.

“Sometimes we’ve all just got to step back and remember that we’re all in this together.”

The Berejiklian government also announced on Sunday it was pumping $25 million into fast-tracking statewide coronavirus research and clinical trials and $14 million into its small business advisory program Business Connect.

The deaths of three people from the novel coronavirus was confirmed on Saturday.

The latest – of a resident at Anglicare’s Newmarch House aged-care home at Caddens – came amid an outbreak at the facility.

A worker had mild symptoms while attending the facility for six days before testing positive last week.

Ten staff and 20 residents at the western Sydney home now have COVID-19, NSW Health said.

The 93-year-old man Newmarch resident who died on Saturday morning was “already suffering multiple serious health issues”, Anglicare Sydney chief executive Grant Millard said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the grieving family through this very distressing time.”

An 83-year-old Queensland man, who was a passenger of the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship, died in Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

A 58-year-old woman died in Tamworth Hospital and authorities are attempting to trace how she contracted the virus.

Meanwhile, NSW Police said the Ruby Princess cruise ship docked at Port Kembla is unlikely to leave until next week.

The virus-plagued Ruby Princess won’t be going anywhere fast. Photo: AAP

The government is under fire for its handling of the saga and a NSW Police investigation is under way after 2647 passengers were allowed to disembark at Sydney Harbour on March 19.

The ship remains docked with about 1000 passengers and crew on board.

After nine additional positive cases overnight, there are now 162 cases among the ship’s on-board crew with another 13 in health facilities.

The ship was to depart on Sunday, however NSW Police assistant commissioner Karen Webb said the chances of that were “remote”.