Australia’s COVID-19 death toll has risen to 80 as the nation commemorated Anzac Day at home due to social distancing measures.
Tasmania recorded its tenth COVID-19 fatality with a 90-year-old man dying at the Mersey Community Hospital in Latrobe.
Nine of Tasmania’s deaths have been in the northwest, where an outbreak has been responsible for more than 130 of the island’s 207 cases and earlier this month forced the closure of Burnie’s two hospitals.
Almost 6700 cases have now been recorded nationwide.
There were 12 new cases in NSW, four of which were recorded at a western Sydney nursing home.
Caddens’ Anglicare Newmarch House, where a fifth person died on April 24, has now recorded 48 infections – making it NSW’s largest ongoing COVID-19 cluster.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard described the virus as “cagey”, “energetic” and “sneaky”, and urged members of the public to continue adhering to social distancing restrictions.
“If people become too relaxed or complacent, the virus can take off,” he told reporters in Sydney.
“We know we’re doing well, but don’t let it lull you into a false sense of security.”
Victoria has recorded just three new cases to a total of 1346.
Fourteen of these have been connected to Albert Road Clinic, a private 80-bed psychiatric facility run by Ramsay Health Care.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the clinic had effectively been shut down.
Anyone who attended on or after March 24 is at risk of developing COVID-19.
In Queensland, two new cases brought the total to 1026, while in Western Australian there was only one new case bringing the state’s total to 549.
In the ACT, cases rose by 1 to 106.
Social distancing measures meant Anzac Day services were either viewed on television, through social media channels or commemorated on the drives of people’s homes.
The televised dawn service at the Australia War Memorial in Canberra was reduced to a small number of dignitaries, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Governor-General David Hurley, New Zealand High Commissioner Dame Annette King and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese.
Meanwhile, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has knocked back the offer of protective medical masks at inflated prices from Wuhan, China, the starting point of the virus.
“What we offered and were able to secure was longer-term contracts for volume and time, not one-off inflated purchases,” he told Nine newspapers.
The minister said that early in the spread of virus, a procurement team together with high level diplomatic efforts had locked in supply lines of masks, test kits and ventilators.
In the private sector the huge increase in demand has led to claims of profiteering, with prices for N95 masks rising sharply.
More than 150 Australians and 20 New Zealanders who have been stranded in South America since the outbreak are being brought home on a rescue flight.
The 15-hour Qantas flight departs Buenos Aires at 2pm local time on Saturday.
By Colin Brinsden