News National Man dies while under quarantine in Melbourne hotel as fresh infection cases fly home
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Man dies while under quarantine in Melbourne hotel as fresh infection cases fly home

Australian and New Zealand passengers leave Uruguay at the start of the long journey back to Australia. Photo: AP
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A man has died while under quarantine in a Melbourne hotel, while a plane carrying more than 100 stranded cruise ship passengers infected with COVID-19 has landed in the city.

“Police are not treating the death as suspicious at this time,” a health department spokesperson confirmed on Sunday. “The coroner will be investigating the incident and as such we are unable to comment further.”

It is unknown if the person had tested positive for coronavirus or if his death has been included in the national death toll, which now stands at 59..

The latest development comes as a flight from Uruguay touched down at Melbourne Airport just before 7am on Sunday, carrying about 112 passengers from the Greg Mortimer cruise ship whose Antarctica voyage was cut short.

Vision from the airport shows crews in hazmat suits boarding the plane, while a handful of passengers wearing masks are also seen disembarking then walking towards a smaller aircraft. It is believed that plane is bound for New Zealand.

The COVID refugees arrived as officials confirmed a 74-year-old Adelaide man, a former passenger on the Ruby Princess, and a Tasmanian woman in her 70s have become the latest Australian victims of COVID-19.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced the state of emergency in Victoria will be extended for another four weeks as the number of new coronavirus cases continues to decline.

Addressing a Sunday morning press conference, Mr Andrews revealed three cases of coronavirus had been confirmed overnight, bringing Victoria’s total to 1,268.

It is the fewest number of new cases in the state since early March. The state’s death toll remains at 14 with 28 people in hospital and 16 of those in intensive care.

The ship’s operator, Aurora Expeditions, confirmed this week that 128 of 217 people on board the Greg Mortimer, nearly 60 per cent, had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Uruguay’s Foreign Minister Ernesto Talvi said two Australian passengers could not be transported as they were fighting for their lives in intensive care.

The ship had been stranded in the South American nation for more than two weeks, after leaving Argentina on March 15 for a 16-day return trip to Antarctica.

Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer Annaliese van Diemen told reporters on Saturday the flight would be met by medical staff and ambulances.

“Everybody who needs to go to hospital will go to hospital and the remaining passengers will go into quarantine in hotels,” Dr van Diemen said.

Any passenger displaying coronavirus symptoms would be taken to hospital, whether or not they have tested positive for the virus, she added.

The group is among 1200 Australian nationals being flown home from overseas to land at Tullamarine this weekend, with flights from India and Peru touching down on Friday and Saturday.

All incoming passengers will be shuttled off to hotels to start 14 days of quarantine.

Free at last after two weeks in a hotel room, this man raises a jubilant fist as he heads home. Photo: AAP/Scott Barbour

Meanwhile, the first group of quarantined travellers were released on Sunday morning after their mandatory two-week quarantine ended.

Victoria’s total recorded COVID-19 cases stands at 1265, with 14 deaths.
The number of new cases on Saturday rose by 24, compared to a rise of 13 the day before.

Of those infected authorities say 118 may have been cases of community transmission.

Victoria’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, called on people not to look for loopholes in physical distancing laws and not leave the house unless for an essential outing.

While most people have heeded Dr Sutton’s advice to have a quiet Easter, many have been fined for hosting gatherings at their homes.

Australia’s national death toll from the virus stands at 57.

-with AAP