The premier reported 47 new cases over the 4 days of the Easter long weekend. Half of the new cases came from two hospitals which were closed on April 13 when the outbreak was first reported—North West Regional Hospital (NWRH) and North West Private Hospital (NWPH).
Authorities are still tracing the origins of the outbreak, meanwhile, rumours have spread—stoked by the chief medical officer—that an illegal dinner party was at fault.
The controversy erupted when Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy commented on the rumour during a conversation that he thought was private.
“Most of them went to an illegal dinner party of medical workers,” he said in a video that was released by the ABC. He has since retracted his statement.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly addressed the incident at a press conference on April 14.
“He referred to the suggestion that a dinner party may have been the source of some of the transmission in north-west Tasmania, related to healthcare workers and the two hospitals in Burnie.
“Whilst this possibility had previously been mentioned to him following initial investigations, he was informed that the contact tracing was not yet confirmed and that such a dinner party had occurred,” he said.
Concerns have also been raised that the source of the outbreak was linked to the Ruby Princess cruise ship, which accounts for one-third of Australia’s 6,447 confirmed cases (as of April 15) of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.
Veitch said that the process they are taking to investigate the origin is like tracing steps backward.
Veitch addressed rumours that a number of cases were traced to passengers of the Ruby Princess cruise ship, sparking theories the cruise ship was the “ultimate source.” Veitch said that they cannot be certain at this stage.
“We are keeping our mind open. We will try and join the dots between the cases who were Ruby Princess cases and staff who came unwell [at the hospitals],” he said.
Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein has asked Tasmania police to investigate.
CCP Virus Updates for Tasmania
“As of last night (April 14) there’d been just over 4,500 tests for coronavirus conducted in Tasmania, and over the last several days we’ve been having regularly 80 to 100 tests done in the northwest,” Veitch said on April 14.
As of 6 p.m. April 13, the total number of cases in Tasmania now stands at 165, including 57 people who have recovered. There have been 6 deaths.
Speaking at a press conference on April 14, Gutwein pointed out that most people have been “doing the right thing” over Easter, however, some did not.
Police made 36 arrests and 174 people were either warned or asked to go back home over the holiday. Stay-at-home orders and non-essential travel restrictions will continue to stay in force.
“Tasmanians need to understand that we are in the fight of our lives, and we need to ensure we do everything we possibly can,” said Gutwein.