NSW’s coronavirus toll has grown, with the death of a woman in her 80s in a Sydney hospital.
She is the 53rd person to die of the virus in the state, and the second in August. The woman died on Wednesday.
Her infection was linked to the COVID-19 outbreak at the Our Lady of Lebanon Church in south-western Sydney.
NSW Health authorities also confirmed 12 more virus infections on Thursday (diagnosed in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday). Four of those were locally acquired and linked to known cases, while five are in returned travellers from overseas.
The remaining three were locally acquired, from sources that are yet to be traced. They add to a growing tally in NSW of mystery cases.
Meanwhile, Victorians have been offered a glimmer of hope, with daily coronavirus infections falling to their lowest level in nearly three weeks on Thursday.
State health authorities confirmed 278 more COVID cases on Thursday – the lowest number since late July.
Unfortunately, Victoria’s death toll also rose further, with eight more fatalities confirmed.
Thursday’s deaths take the state’s virus toll to 275 – with a record 21 reported on Wednesday, and more than 100 in the past week alone. Australia’s national toll, including the NSW fatality is 361.
Elsewhere, New Zealand’s coronavirus outbreak grew to 13 confirmed infections on Thursday. Director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said all positive cases would be managed in a quarantine facility, while virus testing has been further stepped up across the North Island.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand’s situation was serious, but was being dealt with.
“As we all learnt from our first experience with COVID, once you identify a cluster, it grows before it slows. We should expect that to be the case here,” she said.
Back in Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned of more virus deaths to come.
He said Australians should stay focused on protecting the most vulnerable in the community – the elderly.
“Not just looking after their health but wherever possible, to ensure they are treated with dignity and respect,” he said in a video message posted on Facebook.
My message to those who have lost loved ones during this terrible COVID-19 pandemic.
Posted by Scott Morrison (ScoMo) on Tuesday, August 11, 2020
The aged care royal commission this week examined the impact of the pandemic on the elderly and heard stories of neglect and apathy.
It was told more than 68 per cent of the people who’ve died were aged care residents, one of the highest COVID-19 death rates among older people in the world.
Mr Morrison said shortcomings in the aged care sector system would be acknowledged and lessons would be learned.
“We know that in the days and weeks ahead there will be more difficult news … we need to continue to brace ourselves for that.”
But he said there was hope that the crisis would ease, particularly in Victoria.
“While it’s still very early I want to encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing. It will save lives, it will save livelihoods, and all Australians are backing you in to be successful.”
Prior to Thursday, NSW’s most recent death was on August 1 – an 83-year-old man who was linked to the Crossroads Hotel cluster in Casula.
Before that, the last was an 80-year-old woman who died on May 21.
“Every death is a tragedy and these are real people not statistics,” deputy chief medical officer Michael Kidd said at the time about the country’s rising death toll figures.