Australia records second COVID-19 death as case numbers climb

Sunday, 08 Mar, 2020

"I want to reassure the public that we have several mitigation strategies in place to backfill any absent staff with other health workers to ensure continuity of service in our hospitals", NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said.

The latter travelled on two domestic flights between Sydney and Canberra on February 28 - QF1509 and VA651.

The total number of the COVID-19 cases in Australia reached 72 as of Saturday evening with six new patients tested positive in the state of New South Wales (NSW).

Authorities are now struggling to track potential victims after it's been confirmed one of the new cases is a human-to-human transmission inside Australia.

"Screening continues at Sydney International Airport", NSW Health said in a statement.

"We have good records, we were alerted to the fact that there had been an outbreak of illness at the childcare centre and that was brought to our attention in a variety of ways, but also one of the staff members and the partner of the staff member had developed a respiratory illness", Dr Chant said.

NSW Health is also seeking passengers who were on five separate flights from Asia in the past week after two men in their 30s, a man in his 50s and two women in their 60s tested positive following their arrival in NSW.

A Sydney high school will be closed today after a student tested positive to the coronavirus COVID-19.

The NSW secretary of education, Mark Scott, said the department had "well prepared" plans and was contacting students, parents and the broader school community to provide advice and support.

"It is fair to say that we do have an evolution happening in the spread of this virus", he said.

The carer was working at Dorothy Henderson Lodge
The carer was working at Dorothy Henderson Lodge

The teenage boy's mother works at Ryde Hospital, alongside a 53-year-old doctor who is already infected.

Epping Boys High School will be closed for one day.

A close contact is a person who has spent significant time face-to-face (15 minutes) or in an enclosed space (two hours or more).

Staff have been told to work from home until further notice, as other businesses fear they too will soon be forced to close. "Those who become unwell will be sent home and asked to remain away until they are well", the statement posted on Saturday reads.

"Staff and students will be contacted and advised if they can resume school as normal on Monday, 9 March 2020 or if a further quarantine period will be required", the school said on Facebook.

The Victorian doctor's diagnosis has prompted concern for those he treated at The Toorak Clinic in Melbourne.

Another locally acquired case in Sydney is a 41-year-old sister of an infected man who recently returned from Iran where the virus is rampant.

Two patients he visited in Malvern's Mecwacare nursing home are also in isolation.

Missy Higgins with her father Chris Higgins.

'It could be more, but we at least have to enter into these arrangements having some sense of the scale of what we're dealing with here, ' Mr Morrison said.