The Australian Defence Force, working together with a number of other state and federal agencies, has helped lower the spread of the CCP virus in the northwest area of Tasmania. Strategies of stricter policing, higher volume testing as well as a joint operation to reopen North West Regional Hospital (NSRH)—where an outbreak occurred—has seen the spread of the virus ease.
Speaking at a press conference on April 19, Premier Peter Gutwein said that the government’s actions to quarantine thousands of people, close hospitals, increase testing, and aggressively trace contact seemed to be having the desired effect.
“I want to say very clearly to Tasmanians, that in the terms of the outbreak on the North West Coast, the steps that we have taken appear to be working. But we all need to remain disciplined, we need to ensure that we follow the rules and we do everything that we can,” he said.
Tasmanian Minister of Health Sarah Courtney announced the re-opening of NWRH on April 17. The hospital will be run by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) under orders from the Australian Medical Assistance Teams (AUSMAT) until regular staff are out of their 14-day quarantine.
The emergency department will be open 24 hours, the rest of the facility will be closed. Two crews of specialist cleaners are set to start work on the North West Private Hospital to get it up and running as quickly as possible.
Source of the Outbreak
A healthcare worker was said to have misled contact tracers which prompted staff and residents to be tested at Melaleuca Nursing Home, Eliza Purton Home for the Aged, and Coroneagh Park.
The positive case at Melaleuca Home was moved to a hospital and close contacts of the confirmed case and some staff are required to self-isolate for 14 days.
High-volume testing was carried out across the region with up to 500 people tested for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus. A partnership that includes global pathology company Healthcare Sonic has made the increased testing capacity possible. Plans are on the way to set up new testing and mobile clinics which will be based in the northwest region.
Policing Quarantine Orders
Tasmanian police are now supported by the Fire Service, Tasmania State Emergency Services, and ADF in efforts to police quarantine orders.
A 57-year-old woman was arrested and charged with two counts of failing to comply with the directions of the Director of Public Health. She was bailed out and returned to her room to continue quarantine, according to a police statement.
Police were first called to attend Wrest Point Casino at the request of staff on Saturday morning, in relation to a woman in quarantine who was failing to comply with directions of the Director of Public Health by continuing to leave her room to smoke, ignoring the safety measure in place at the accommodation facility. It was also alleged that the woman had been abusive to staff.
“This is unacceptable behaviour. The directions are in place to protect the community and these blatant breaches put the staff of the hotel, attending police and members of the Tasmanian community at risk,” said Inspector Rebecca Davis.
As of 6 p.m. on April 19, a total of 70 people have recovered from the CCP virus and 8 have died, according to state records. A total of 195 people have been diagnosed with the virus and an estimated 111 are from the northwest region.