Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 11AM 12 APRIL 2020

Premier Peter Gutwein

It’s with sadness that I confirm that a fifth Tasmanian has died from coronavirus.

That’s five too many, and unfortunately there will be more.

The elderly woman in her 70s died in the North West Regional Hospital where she was being cared for.

On behalf of the Tasmanian Government, I want to sincerely offer my condolences to her family, friends and loved ones.

It’s, again, a stark reminder that this virus is deadly.

It has taken lives, and as I’ve said, it will take more yet.

We must do everything we can to contain the spread of the virus, and we are taking unprecedented measures to do that.

I’ll provide a short update this morning. I don’t have with me this morning the Health Minister nor the Public Health Director, nor the Chief Medical Officer. This afternoon there will be a further press conference at 3:30pm, and we will run through more detail then, on some of the matters that have occurred overnight.

However, yesterday 11 more cases were confirmed, nine were health care workers, two were close contacts of health care workers on the NW Coast as well.

These cases range from people in their 20s to people in their 60s. It brings our total positive cases in Tasmania over the journey to 133. Fifty three have recovered; 75 are still active; and unfortunately to date, there have been five deaths.

Also today, I will provide a brief update on the activities of Tasmanian Police, and the very strong presence they have had around the State.

It was announced by Police yesterday that around 90 vehicles have been stopped, people have been turned around, there have been 20 people who have been asked to return to their primary place of residence. Twenty three people have been arrested, charged and bailed. A further 13 people have been summonsed to attend Court at a later date.

This is serious. Tasmanians need to understand that we need to follow the rules, importantly, if you stay home you will save lives. And it is important that Tasmanians heed the warnings we provide, but importantly, that as the majority of Tasmanians are doing the right thing, that small percentage of Tasmanians who believe that this doesn’t impact on them, that they do the right thing as well, and if not, we will throw the book at you.

We don’t want people travelling to small communities. We don’t want this virus being taken to parts of the State where it will infect, in the main, older populations, more at-risk populations.

It’s a simple message: stay home, save lives.

If you don’t need to go out for essential supplies, for medical services, or to go to work, or to exercise – stay at home. Do the right thing. Ensure you take care with your personal hygiene. Wash your hands regularly. Protect your family, protect those you love. Protect our community.

Yesterday we announced some measures on the NW Coast, including a mandatory 14 day quarantine for all NWRH staff who have worked in either the medical or surgical wards since 27th March.

Their households will also be required to quarantine for this duration as well.

However, we currently have 35 health care workers on the NW Coast who have tested positive.

This is a serious situation, it is a serious outbreak, and it’s imperative the Government takes further steps to ensure we can get on top of this.

We took early steps. We took advantage of the fact that we are an island.

We put in place the strongest quarantine measures in the country in terms of who can come here.

We put in place the early ban on cruise ships.

But we are now in a position where we are in the fight of our lives.

And that fight is occurring on the NW Coast.

We held meetings yesterday and again late into the night. We met this morning and we will meet again shortly.

This afternoon we will be announcing a plan for the NW Coast. I wasn’t to ready NW Coasters for this, because things will change. Things have to change. We need to get on top of this. We need to get on top of it now.

Importantly, we need the community to work with us, and take the steps that we will outline this afternoon, together with us, not just for the benefit of yourselves and your families, but for the whole state.

We’ll have more to say this afternoon at 3:30, and we will be outlining our plan, but as I’ve said, those on the NW Coast need to ready themselves because things are going to change. Things have to change.

I don’t want to say too much more this morning. Any questions of detail will be able to be directed to the health professionals this afternoon.

But I do want to make the point, that this is serious. We are now, literally, in the fight of our lives. It’s important we take steps to get on top of this, it’s important that people work with us.

I want to say to the staff of the NWRH, the NW Private, and the Mersey Community Hospital: we appreciate the work that you are doing. This is an awful situation to manage through, and we understand, that like those in your community, and those across the community in Tasmania who understand just how deadly this disease can be, that you will have concerns and you will have fears.

We want to let you know that we are going to do everything possible that we can to ensure we get on top of this outbreak.

We will protect you, we will protect your family, we will protect the broader NW Coast, and importantly, we will protect Tasmania.

We will outline a plan later today.

With the gravity of the circumstances we find ourselves in, this might seem like a moot point, but I’d like to take the time to acknowledge that it is Easter. And the most important thing you can do at Easter for your families this year is to stay home, stay safe.

Look after those people that you love. Look after your communities. Look after the rest of the State.

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