Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 14 APRIL 2020

Premier Peter Gutwein

Firstly, I want to say to all of those people who have done the right thing over Easter – thank you.

The vast majority of Tasmanians are doing the right thing, they are staying home, and they are saving lives, and we need to continue with this.

Now it’s quite obvious that in the South and the North, these measures are working and ensuring that COVID is squashed. However, we obviously have an outbreak in the North West; an outbreak that we need to get on top of, and we’ve taken some strong measures to deal with that.

Yesterday there was six new cases, all of them in the NW, and all related to the North West Regional Hospital outbreak.

It’s important that the NW community follows the rules that we have outlined. It’s important. These rules are stringent, they are tough, but you need to stay in step with them, you need to follow the rules, you need to protect yourself, your family, your community.

In total, the State now has 150 cases: 57 people have recovered, therefore we have 88 cases that are still being managed.

Unfortunately there have been five deaths, and I expect that over time we will see more, unfortunately, and we need to ready ourselves for that.

What is interesting but also concerning, is that on Easter Thursday we had 103 cases. Today we have 150.

The 47 new cases are all linked to the NW outbreak. This is serious and we need to get on top of it.

That is why we’ve taken the steps, to initially take over the NW Private Hospital, and to move to close both the NWRH and NW Private Hospital, to put between 4,000 and 5,000 people into quarantine on the NW Coast.

It’s also why, unfortunately, again, we’ve had to implement increased restrictions on business on the NW Coast. We want to see less contact between people, and we need to ensure that you follow the rules, that you apply social distancing, that do everything you possibly can to follow the rules and save lives.

We’ve requested that the ADF come into Tasmania and assist us with the outbreak in the NW, and this afternoon the first contingent of ADF and AUSMAT people will arrive.

They will then be in a position, once the NW ED has been cleaned – it’s the first part of the hospital to receive the super clean – they will then be in a position to stand it up at a very early stage, and hopefully, that will occur, if not tomorrow, then very shortly thereafter.

I want to touch on policing through this period.

Over the Easter period – and the vast majority of people are doing the right thing – but over the Easter period, we’ve had 36 arrests, 24 people have been summonsed, and 174 people now have been warned or turned around and asked to go back to their primary place of residence.

There is still a number of people in the community who are not doing the right thing, and I want to make the point, that the rules in relation to shacks don’t come off post-Easter, they remain in place.

The rules in relation to staying at home and only leaving for essential purposes, they remain in place.

Tasmanians need to understand that we are in the fight of our lives and we need to ensure that we do everything we possibly can to squash this outbreak at its source and get on top of it, and that is exactly the steps we are taking.

I want to deal with one matter that has made the media this morning, I spoke to Brendan Murphy a short while ago. To be frank, Brendan was commenting on a rumour.

At this stage, our contact tracing has not identified a dinner party of health workers.

However, I accept that this is a serious allegation and it’s something that needs to be followed up. So we will retrace our steps and importantly, I’ve asked that Tasmania Police investigate this matter and that will be started today.

We need to get on top of this, we need to understand whether or not there is any strength to the rumour because at end of the day, I’m certain there are many hardworking health professionals on the NW Coast that feel their reputations are being maligned, people who have done the right thing, and we need to understand what’s occurred here.

But I do want to make this point, regardless of whether or not that party took place, it does not change the fact that we need to get on top of this outbreak. It does not change the fact that we need to all work together on the NW Coast and across the State to ensure that we follow the rules, and we get on top of this thing as quickly as we can.

In the North and in the South, the measures we have taken are working.

But do not become complacent. The very strong measures that we have implemented to get on top of this early on, in front of the country, are standing us in good stead, apart from in the NW where we have this outbreak, and that is why we’ve taken over the NW Private, that is why we’ve closed two hospitals, that is why we’ve quarantined so many people on the NW Coast, and that is why we’ve implemented the very strong restrictions that we have in place to non-essential retail. The NW Coast has to work with us. All of Tasmania has to work with us.

This is not a game, it’s not a drill, this is serious, people have died and unfortunately more people will die.

We need to get on top of this, we need to firm our resolve that the most important thing we can do, is to take heed of the rules, to not travel when we don’t need to travel. To not go out of our home when we don’t need to travel, and importantly, that we need to social distance, we need to ensure that we take care of our hygiene, wash our hands regularly. Importantly, we can all do our bit.

Unfortunately, not everyone has been doing their bit. We need everybody to get behind this.

This is serious, and I think for a lot of people they’re starting to wake up to the fact that it is deadly serious.

I cannot stress enough, how necessary it is, for people right across the State to heed the rules, but importantly, on the NW Coast, follow the rules, stay home, save lives.

And importantly – if you need assistance, put your hand up, call the Public Health Hotline. We will assist you, we will ensure that we will help you through this, but you need to work with us.

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