Tasmanian hospital staff attended ‘illegal dinner party’.
Australian Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy told a New Zealand Parliamentary committee this morning a coronavirus cluster in north-west Tasmania appeared after medical staff attended a dinner party.
“You have to be prepared to deal with further outbreaks,” Dr Murphy said.
“We thought we were doing really well then in the last week we had a cluster of 49 cases in a hospital in Tasmania just over the weekend. Most of them went to an illegal dinner party of medical workers.”
Speaking on Tuesday morning, Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said Dr Murphy was “commenting on a rumour”.
“At this stage, there has… Our contact tracing has not identified a dinner party of health workers.
“However, I accept that this is a serious allegation, and it’s something that needs to be followed up, and so we will retrace our steps, but, importantly, I’ve asked the Tasmania Police to investigate this matter, and that will be started today.
“We need to get on top of this. We need to understand whether or not there is any strength to the rumour because, at the end of the day, I am certain that there are many hard-working health professionals on the north-west coach who feel that their reputations are being maligned, people that have done the right thing, and we need to understand exactly what’s occurred.”
Two hospitals – North West Regional Hospital and North West Private Hospital in Burnie – have closed due to the outbreak.
All staff and members of their households, totalling about 5000 people, have been placed in quarantine for two weeks.
Ruby Princess patient zero.
Detectives have begun interviewing thousands of witnesses about what they knew about potential COVID-19 cases on board the Ruby Princess cruise, before it docked in Sydney more than three weeks ago.
Since letting 2,700 passengers disembark and head home with little to no health checks – 18 people have died and hundreds of confirmed coronavirus cases have been linked back to the ship.
The NSW Police Commissioner says they think a waiter or a crew member that handles food is the likely patient zero.
“That would seem to be the most obvious point of transmission — someone that is handling food on behalf of multiple hundreds of people,” he said.