Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 20 APRIL 2020

Minister for Health Sarah Courtney

Good morning.

The Premier sends his apologies this morning. He’s working on other matters, but I can assure you that he’ll be back tomorrow for tomorrow’s briefing.

The current number of coronavirus cases in Tasmania is 195. We had an additional seven cases between 6pm Saturday night and 6pm Sunday night. There was a small error in last night’s reporting to the media, so I want to be very clear that it is 195 cases. There was a manual count error and we apologise for that. All new cases have been associated with the North West, and we have 71 Tasmanians that have been cleared of coronavirus.

With regards to our testing. Testing numbers continue to increase strongly. We have now conducted over 6,400 tests in Tasmania, but there is still more expansion we can do and we ask Tasmanians to recognise your symptoms and please contact the Public Health Hotline or your GP, if you have symptoms or if you’re concerned.

We’ve seen a significant expansion in the North West. We had over 270 tests in the North West over the last 24 hours and 309 tests across the entire state. So, we are seeing a response from the North West. I thank those people for their vigilance during this very importantly time.

We’re also continuing to see progress on the North West Regional Hospital, so the Emergency Department has now seen around 40 presentations since it’s reopened, and we have today started cleaning on the maternity section of the North West Private Hospital. We expanded our cleaning staff. We now have two crews of specialist cleaners that are working on maternity to ensure we can get that up and running as quickly as possible.

I’d like to assure people in the North West that the Emergency Department is open. If you are unwell, you can present to the Emergency Department. If you are very unwell, please call triple zero. There is help available. I know that there has been some concerns in that community, but I’d like to make it really clear, the Emergency Department is available to see presentations. If you are very unwell, please call triple zero, and we’ll ensure that you get the best possible care.

For people on the North West. I’d like to again reiterate, please be aware of your symptoms. If you think you might have coronavirus, please contact the Public Health Hotline, please contact your GP. We’re continuing our expansion of testing. However, if you do not live near a coronavirus testing facility, your GP can test you, so please contact them.

With regards to southern Tasmania. It’s very exciting today that K Block Reception has opened. This is a great milestone for our whole health system and indeed the Royal Hobart Hospital. I’d like to thank the many, many people who have worked hard not only building this exciting facility but also the commissioning. There has been a lot of work over the past few weeks and months to make sure that this building is ready to receive patients.

So, that’s very exciting, and Patient Admissions will be on track to open tomorrow. So, thank you to all the hardworking people who have made this happen. This is going to make a very big, positive difference to our health system. Now during a pandemic, but also we know to ensure that Tasmanians can get the care that they need to relieve pressure on the Emergency Department and to relieve access block that we have had at that hospital.

I’d like to thank the staff at that hospital. I’d like to thank the staff at the LGH who are working very hard with the increased load from the NW hospitals, and again thank the staff at the Mersey and North West Regional Hospital, whether you’re working or whether you’re in quarantine, we appreciate the work that you have been doing, and we’re looking forward particularly for our North West regional staff being able to return to work soon.

Finally, before I hand over to Dr McKeown to be able to give a Public Health update, I’d also like to recognise all the patients that we have at the moment.  I know that we recognise our staff who are doing a really hard job at the moment. Many patients are in hospitals and can’t receive visitors because of visitor restrictions. So, we’d like to recognise you. We understand that it is difficult, whether you’re in hospital with coronavirus or you’re in a hospital because of another illness. It is challenging not to be able to have the support of your loved ones. And we thank you and would like to reassure you that the decisions that we make are in the best interest of your health and the health of our hardworking healthcare professionals.

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