'Can't track virus source': Woman, 95, dies

 

A 95-year-old woman has become the second person to die from the coronavirus in Australia, with six more cases confirmed in New South Wales on Wednesday.

The woman was a resident at the Dorothy Henderson Lodge nursing home facility at Macquarie Park, where a 50-year-old worker was diagnosed with the virus earlier this week, NSW Health confirmed in a statement. The woman died in hospital on Tuesday.

The employee worked with 13 residents at the lodge. An 82-year-old man is now being treated in hospital for the virus, while a third resident aged in her 70s was also diagnosed on Wednesday.

The five other new cases include a female doctor who works at Liverpool Hospital, a female patient from the Northern Beaches, a male from Cronulla and a female who is believed to have returned from the Philippines, NSW Health said.

It brings the state's total number of cases to 22 and the national count to 50.

"The female doctor who was diagnosed on March 4 had no history of overseas travel. We are immediately establishing which staff and patients may need to self-isolate and be tested for COVID-19 should they be unwell," NSW Health added.

The woman who is believed to have travelled from the Philippines is aged in her 60s and arrived back in Australia on March 3.

"Her travel details are being obtained and will be disclosed if she posed a risk to any other passengers on her flight," NSW Health said.

NSW Minister for Heath Brad Hazzard said the carer is a “much-loved” and longstanding member of staff. Picture: AAP Image/James Gourley
NSW Minister for Heath Brad Hazzard said the carer is a “much-loved” and longstanding member of staff. Picture: AAP Image/James Gourley

'WE CAN'T TRACK THE SOURCE'

Addressing the nursing home cases on Wednesday, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the carer was working on 24 February when she started developing flu-like symptoms.

"And so we did the checks. And, of course, we're aware that it's likely that she could have been capable of passing on the coronavirus from at least the day before, 24 hours, so that's 23 February," he said.

He said the woman was a "much-loved" and longstanding member of staff at a residential care home which is part of Baptist Care.

"It is concerning when we have somebody present with coronavirus and we can't track the source," Mr Hazzard said.

"In this case, this much-loved staff member had not travelled. She had not been overseas. She had not been to any of the hot spots around the world. So, that raises the question, how did she end up with coronavirus?"

This comes amid fears Sydney doctor may have spread the coronavirus to a large number of patients.

Forty staff members who work closely with the 53-year-old male doctor at Ryde Hospital have been isolated.

They include 13 doctors, 23 nurses and four other health workers. The infected doctor is in a stable condition at Westmead Hospital.

The carer was working at Dorothy Henderson Lodge. Picture: Supplied
The carer was working at Dorothy Henderson Lodge. Picture: Supplied

However, authorities say the doctor had already come into contact with a "large and diverse" range of patients in his workplace.

 

"We still don't know how he acquired the infection,'' chief health officer Kerry Chant said.

"We are doing an investigation as we speak. He did not care for any of our positive cases but we are doing some additional investig­ations into what patients he saw, to see whether there were any undiagnosed cases."

A further eight patients of the doctor are showing no symptoms, while 29 other patients identified as casual contacts are being chased up.

A man in Victoria was also diagnosed with coronavirus on Wednesday after travelling to Australia from Iran.

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos says the man in his 30s became unwell on Sunday after returning to Victoria from Iran on February 26.

He went to an emergency department after speaking with a nurse on call, with his positive test result confirmed late on Tuesday.



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