Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 14 MAY 2020

Minister for Health Sarah Courtney

I’ll start by providing an update on the coronavirus cases in Tasmania.

As of six pm last night, we had no additional case of coronavirus, and our State’s total remains at 225.

187 people have recovered from coronavirus.

Testing still remains strong around our State. Yesterday we had 211 presentations in the South, 85 in the North and 128 in the North West.

Our advice remains the same, for all Tasmanians, no matter where you live, please make sure that you phone the coronavirus hotline, if you have any symptoms at all.

It is very important as we move forward with easing of our restrictions in the community that we continue to test and that we continue to test symptomatic people.

So, please, no matter where you live across Tasmania, if you have a bit of sore throat, a snuffly nose, a cough, please call the Public Health hotline.

It is very important as we go forward and ease restrictions in our community.

I’d like to now provide an update around the Mersey Community Hospital

We know the Mersey Community Hospital has played a very important role supporting the North West Regional Hospital and North West Private when those hospitals closed. We saw a number of patients decanted to that hospital, and staff worked incredibly hard there to be able to care for them, as did staff at the LGH and the Royal Hobart Hospital when we had patients transferred there.

A Mersey Reset Plan has been developed by the THS EOC, in consultation with the Chief Executive of Hospitals North-North West, the Nursing Director of Operations at the Mersey Community Hospital, the North West Regional Health Emergency Commander and the North West Executive Director of Medical Services, all who have been supported by the leadership groups at the Mersey Community Hospital.

So, with regards to this, we’re going to see a staged reopening of key services.

This includes the Emergency Department at the Mersey Community Hospital, which will be opening of 31st May with operating hours from eight am to 10 pm.

There will be deep cleaning of high-risk areas, including the ED, as they are vacated by patients or groups temporarily occupying them.

We are implementing a number of capital works, based on infectious disease specialist advice to strengthen our response capability.

We’re recruiting additional infection prevention and control nursing staff to coordinate and support a range of critical infection control training and monitoring activities, and I note that we have recently appointed an infectious disease physician for the North West.

There’ll be a dedicated medical lead at the Mersey Community Hospital to strengthen medical governance and provide advice to support teams in primary, community and mental health.

We’re rolling out a resilience by design staff wellbeing program and a peer support program.

We’re continuing implementing the COVID training package for staff, including the online training as well as face-to-face assessments.

And we’re reviewing ordering and delivery systems, including PPE, to ensure continue availability and accessibility of stock.

I’d like to thank the community in Latrobe and around Devonport for your support during this time. I know it has been challenging not having that Emergency Department available to you.

And I’d like to thank those other facilities that have supported the North West in this time. I know the LGH and the Royal Hobart Hospital have played a key role and Ambulance Tasmania, the paramedics and the volunteers in the North West have also been working incredibly hard to ensure that those patients can be cared for over long distances.

***