A Sydney aged-care worker is the latest case of coronavirus in Australia, sparking urgent tests to ensure the nursing home’s elderly residents have not been exposed to the virus.
Health authorities in NSW have confirmed the woman in her 50s is an aged-care worker at the Dorothy Henderson Lodge in Macquarie Park.
She is the third person to be infected via human-to-human transmission in Australia, with all three cases in NSW.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the woman had contact with 13 residents of the home, two of whom subsequently reported respiratory symptoms.
One of those two residents, a 95-year-old woman, has died.
“Whether or not it was related to corona, we don’t know at this point,” Mr Hazzard said.
Eleven residents at the home are now in isolation.
The coronavirus has a death rate of up to 15 per cent for elderly sufferers, compared to children who seem to survive it.
Australia’s chief medical officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, has told Senate estimates the majority of sufferers will “barely notice it”.
The horror scenario of a coronavirus being spread at an aged-care home has already been war-gamed by Australian authorities. There are plans to put aged-care facilities into quarantine lockdown, if necessary, to avoid the virus spreading further.
The affected woman worked at a nursing home near Macquarie University in northern Sydney.
Meanwhile, multiple patients and 40 staff from Ryde Hospital remain under quarantine after coming into contact with a 52-year-old doctor diagnosed with COVID-19.
Victoria also confirmed a 10th case of coronavirus on Wednesday. State Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said a man in his 30s became unwell on Sunday after returning to Victoria from Iran on February 26.
The latest cases come as authorities plead with shoppers to stop hoarding toilet paper.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged Australians to “help each other” and lower the anxiety levels.
“Australians can go about their business. Unless you’ve been in an affected area – they’re the ones that shouldn’t then go and be at a place of mass gathering, or something like that,” he said.
“But the rest of us, we just go on about our lives as normal. And I can understand why people may be concerned, and go to supermarkets, and do those sorts of things. But the advice is that’s not necessary.”
Mr Morrison said he spoke to supermarket bosses on Wednesday about the panic-buying.
“They’ve been putting things in place to ensure that they get those shelves stocked up again and all the rest of it,” he said.
“It’s a serious issue, but we’re on top of it, as is the state government in New South Wales, and Queensland, and other places. And people can just go about their business. That is what you can do, most importantly to help the economy, to help each other, and to lower the anxiety levels.”