Jon Sanders’ 11th circumnavigation of the globe almost complete, making landfall in Bundaberg


An octogenarian sailing legend has docked in Bundaberg on his 11th circumnavigation of the globe, facing headwinds of a global pandemic and wild weather along the way.

Australian yachtsman Jon Sanders sailed more than 40,000 kilometres since leaving Fremantle almost a year ago, on a voyage to raise awareness of plastic pollution.

“It’s not just amazing, this is the 11th time he’s done this,” Mr Sanders’ team manager Stephen Davis said.

Mr Sanders was towed into Bundaberg Port Marina this morning and escorted from his yacht by police and Border Force officers for a COVID-19 test at Bundaberg Hospital, before returning to his yacht.

“Jon is probably the lowest risk person in Australia, he’s just had 30 days at sea solo,” Mr Davis said.

“The reason he left Tahiti is because the virus started picking up there and it was time to head to Australia for the last lap.”

Jon Sanders with his yacht the Perie Banou II.(Supplied: Minderoo Foundation)

With a quarantine exemption from Queensland Health, he will be free to set foot on dry land properly once his test returns negative.

‘Worst conditions in decades’

Mr Davis explained the trip was going well until the pandemic hit and Sanders had to bunker down on an island in the Caribbean for three months.

As well as coronavirus, Mr Sanders had to contend with some of the worst conditions he had seen in decades.

“He hit three very big storms, and at one stage he was sailing with all the sails down and bow sails up to slow the boat down with winds of more than 120 kilometres an hour and high seas crashing over the boat,” Mr Davis said.

“The boat was taking on so much water the engine was flooded and we expect Jon is a bit battered and bruised with [we suspect] a few cracked ribs.”

West Australian solo yachtsman Jon Sanders
WA yachting legend Jon Sanders sets sail from Fremantle on his tenth circumnavigation in 2016.(ABC News: Briana Shepherd)

The storm also left the sailor without electronics.

“But that’s how he started out his sailing 60 years ago, so he went back to basics.”

Mr Sanders is expected to be in Bundaberg for the next few weeks before heading south along the coast and back to Perth.

Coronavirus ensures subdued welcome

A small crowd of locals gathered at the marina near Burnett Heads to welcome Mr Sanders, including a group of women who regularly meet for coffee on the waterfront.

A group of six women looking out to sea, hands raised over their eyes, laughing.
Lorraine Keen, in blue, and friends welcome sailor Jon Sanders to the Bundaberg Port Marina.(ABC Wide Bay: Eliza Goetze)

“I saw this morning that he was coming in and I just thought ‘how exciting for Burnett Heads and the port’,” Lorraine Keen said.

“I googled him, watched a couple of YouTubes, and I thought ‘what a fantastic person, aged 81 and doing this’. Amazing.”

Throughout the circumnavigation, Mr Sanders collected water samples for analysis by researchers at Curtin University in Perth who hope to build a picture of plastic pollution in oceans across the Southern Hemisphere.

His mission attracted sponsorship from billionaires Andrew and Nicola Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation which established the Sea the Future initiative to encourage safer disposal of plastics.



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Unions seize on 11th hour demands that Boris Johnson introduces facemasks in schools


Boris Johnson today appeared to lay the groundwork for a humiliating U-turn on pupils wearing face masks as he said ‘if we need to change the advice then of course we will’. 

Currently head teachers in England are being told that face coverings are not necessary as long as schools adhere to hygiene rules. 

But Nicola Sturgeon has said secondary school pupils in Scotland will be required to wear masks when in communal areas and when travelling between classes, piling the pressure on the PM.

That move was confirmed this morning by Scotland’a Education Secretary John Swinney who said secondary schools will be given ‘obligatory guidance’ that pupils should wear masks when outside the classroom from next Monday. 

Downing Street and senior ministers have insisted in recent days that there were no plans to to review the guidance in England.

But Mr Johnson has now signalled there could be an imminent change in approach as he said: ‘On the issue of whether or not to wear masks in some contexts – you know, we’ll look at the the changing medical evidence as we go on.

‘If we need to change the advice then of course we will.’ 

He added: ‘If there are things we have to do to vary the advice on medical grounds, we will, of course, do that.

‘But as the chief medical officer, all our scientific advisers, have said, schools are safe.’ 

His comments came as the Welsh government announced it will conduct a review into whether face masks should be worn in its schools. 

Teaching unions have seized on the issue, with the Association of School and College Leaders demanding Mr Johnson change tack and follow Ms Sturgeon’s lead ahead of schools in England reopening next week.  

The Government is desperately trying to persuade parents to send their children back to school amid lingering safety fears and the face masks issue risks undermining the efforts of ministers. 

There is now growing speculation that Ms Sturgeon’s decision to act first on face masks in schools will ultimately force Number 10 to change its approach. 

It would not be the first time that the SNP leader has humiliated Mr Johnson during the pandemic. 

She has repeatedly gazumped the PM throughout the crisis, taking action before the UK Government on things including announcing a ban on large social gatherings, closing schools and saying that the original three week lockdown would be extended.     

Ms Sturgeon at the Scottish Parliament on August 20

Boris Johnson says face masks are not necessary in schools, but Nicola Sturgeon has signalled secondary school pupils in Scotland will be asked to wear them when travelling between classes 

There is growing speculation that Mr Johnson, pictured during a visit to a shipyard in Devon today, will ultimately be forced into a U-turn on the masks in schools issue

There is growing speculation that Mr Johnson, pictured during a visit to a shipyard in Devon today, will ultimately be forced into a U-turn on the masks in schools issue

Business Secretary Alok Sharma today said there are 'no current plans to review the guidance on face coverings in schools'

Business Secretary Alok Sharma today said there are ‘no current plans to review the guidance on face coverings in schools’

Unions tell ministers head teachers will not fine parents who keep children at home

Headteachers won’t fine parents who decide to keep their children home from school next week, unions have signalled to Downing Street.

Number 10 insisted compulsory fines should be used as a ‘last resort’ to force parents into bringing their children into the classroom when schools reopen.

But unions, who have opposed the return to the classroom because of the danger coronavirus poses to teachers, told The Telegraph fines were ‘counterproductive’.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: ‘Talking about fines now is unhelpful. Members cannot say don’t use them but they are more motivated by co-operation rather than coercion.’ 

Nick Gibbs, the schools minister, said strict attendance was ‘not optional’ but parents could raise any concerns they might have directly with schools. 

Headteachers have the power to impose fines of £120 per parent, which is halved if paid within 21 days.

If the fine goes unpaid and the case makes it to court some parents could be left with a £2,500 fine and a three-month prison sentence. 

Fines are usually brought in after five days of non-attendance.  

Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NAS/UWT, the second biggest teaching union, said schools needed to work with parents ‘constructively’.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and children’s charity Unicef issued guidance at the weekend that children aged 12 and over should wear face coverings like adults, particularly if they cannot stay six feet apart from others. 

Ms Sturgeon immediately launched a review of their use in Scottish schools, which have now been reopen for two weeks, and said they would probably have to be worn in areas such as ‘corridors and communal areas’.

In response, the Association of School and College Leaders called on Mr Johnson to conduct his own review, in a move that will frustrate the Government as it tries to assuage parent and pupil safety concerns. 

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL, told the BBC this morning: ‘The guidance which had come from Westminster, it wasn’t just that it said “young people don’t need to wear face masks”, it was also saying that actually they shouldn’t be wearing it because it increases hygiene risks because they are fiddling around with their masks all the time.’

He added: ‘If we are going to have a screeching U-turn from the Government could we have that now so that at least we can plan for the start of term?’ 

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said advice from the WHO ‘ought to be listened to’.

‘We have to stay abreast of the science, so when the World Health Organisation says that children over 12 should wear masks in communal areas at school, that ought to be listened to,’ he said. 

Mr Johnson has said it is ‘vital’ for pupils to go back to school next week, with the PM insisting that the risk of children catching the disease is ‘very, very, very small’ and the risk of them suffering badly from it is ‘very, very, very, very, very small indeed’.   

Mr Sharma today signalled the UK Government is intending to stand firm on the masks issue as he said the advice had been ‘consistent’ for months.    

He told LBC Radio: ‘Public Health England does not recommend face coverings in school and the reason for this is because pupils and staff are mixing in consistent groups and we have provided additional guidance, together with Public Health England, in terms of how you can keep schools safe.

‘As I said, there are no current plans to review the guidance on face coverings in schools.’

He later told Sky news that ‘there is no current plan to review that particular guidance’ as he rejected suggestions that the Government could simply make wearing masks in schools voluntary. 

Gavin Williamson promises all schools will get stock of Covid home tests ahead of next week’s reopening 

Under-fire Gavin Williamson today broke cover to guarantee every school in England will be supplied with coronavirus home tests to hand out to parents when they reopen next week.

The Education Secretary used an interview to pledge that teachers would be able to send ill children home with a kit so that a family member can use it to quickly determine whether they have Covid-19.

Staff will also be allowed to use the swab kits under guidance that says they should be handed out by teachers ‘where they think providing one will significantly increase the likelihood of them (the ill person) getting tested.’

Under guidance issued by the Department for Education, if the child tests negative either using a home kit or after visiting a testing centre they can return to school with the minimum of disruption.

If they test positive they quarantine at home while the school takes steps to limit the spread.

But many have questioned whether every school getting Covid-19 home testing kits before September is an achievable feat in the first place – with sceptical parents vowing to hold the Education Secretary to his word.

General Secretary of the Teachers’ Union Dr Patrick Roach said: ‘We wait with interest to see more detail about the Education Secretary’s promise of home testing kits for use by schools.

‘It is important that this latest announcement from Ministers delivers on substance and that there is an adequate supply of testing kits to help keep schools safe not just on the first day back at school but throughout the term and beyond.’

The Business Secretary also claimed pupils are actually at lower risk of catching coronavirus in school than they are outside school.  

He said: ‘I think you have to look also at the science of this and you will have seen the messaging that has come from the chief medical officers, the deputy chief medical officers, saying very clearly that the chances of being infected from Covid in a school is very, very small.

‘If you look at the statistics from Public Health England, in June we had on average around one million children in pre-school and primary settings and there were 70 incidents of infection.

‘The chances of being infected in school are incredibly low. In fact the chances of being infected are higher outside a school setting so we have to go on the basis of the scientific and medical advice that we get and that is very clear at this stage which is that there is not a recommendation for wearing face coverings in schools.’  

Meanwhile, sources suggested that London Mayor Sadiq Khan is now ‘moving towards’ a position that teenagers in the capital should wear masks in schools where they cannot socially distance. 

It is understood that Mr Khan has asked his team to consult with colleagues in Scotland where schools have been back for two weeks.

Dr Margaret Harris, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organisation, said face masks in school could help lower the risk of spreading infection. 

She told Times Radio: ‘The idea is that you limit the amount of virus that comes from a person’s mouth or nose while talking loudly, especially when you can’t physically distance.

‘In schools there are a lot of places where it is difficult to physically distance.

‘The wearing of a mask increases the other things you do – washing hands, social distancing and ensuring that you don’t touch your hands nose, eyes with unwashed hands.

‘A mask is an extra thing, it is not the only thing. It is not an obligatory thing, it is something that needs to be negotiated.’

The Government is under growing pressure to change its approach after a YouGov survey found a majority of people  – 52 per cent – believe secondary school children should wear masks.   

On widening the use of masks in English schools, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said yesterday: ‘We are not in a position where we are suggesting that, because we believe there is a system of controls that are there in place for all schools for children to be able to return safely and for staff to be able to operate safely within those schools.’

Some experts have questioned the wisdom of asking children to wear masks amid fears it could actually spread the virus.  

Professor Russel Viner, the president of the Royal College of Pediatricians and a member of the government’s SAGE advisory committee, told Radio 4: ‘There are a lot of concerns for mask wearing for children, particularly younger children. 

‘They touch their face because they are constantly worried about the mask, so it could potentially spread the virus more. 

‘There is very little evidence for the use of masks in schools.’  

Jenny Harries, England’s deputy chief medical officer, said yesterday the evidence on whether children over 12 should wear masks in schools was ‘not strong’.   

The WHO says children aged 12 and over ‘should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults, in particular where they cannot guarantee at least a one metre distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area’.

But the Department for Education has said head teachers must not force pupils or staff to wear them.

Its guidance states the benefits from wearing masks on public transport or in shops do not apply to the school environment, and misuse could increase the risk of transmissions. 

Pupils wear face masks at a school in Belfast yesterday after returning to school for the first time since March

Pupils wear face masks at a school in Belfast yesterday after returning to school for the first time since March 

And there are also worries about the impact of masks on teaching and communication, especially for children with learning difficulties.

Instead, ‘changing habits, cleaning and hygiene are effective measure for controlling the spread of the virus’, according to the guidance.

Exceptions are where children require intimate care, or if they become unwell with coronavirus symptoms and teachers are unable to maintain a two-metre distance.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries says pupils are more likely to be hit by a bus than catch Covid 

Pupils are more likely to be hit by a bus on their way to school than catch coronavirus in the classroom, the deputy chief medical officer claimed yesterday.

Dr Jenny Harries said the risk of children being involved in a traffic accident or of catching the flu are ‘probably higher than the current risk’ posed by the deadly virus.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Nick Gibb this morning insisted parents will be fined if they refuse to send their children back to school next week.

He also said the Government is sticking by its advice to teachers that they do not need to wear masks despite a growing row with unions over staff safety.

Public Health England data has shown that teachers are more likely to be infected than their pupils, after one in 23,000 students tested positive during the partial reopening of schools before the summer holidays.

 

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: ‘If a school puts in place the measures that are in the guidance that we issued in early July… then masks are not necessary for staff or pupils.’

The Department for Education said: ‘We have consistently followed Public Health England advice, which does not recommend the use of face coverings in schools because there are a range of protective measures in place, including children staying in consistent groups.

‘We have set out the system of controls schools should use, including cleaning and hygiene measures, to substantially reduce the risk of transmission of the virus when they open to all children in the coming weeks.’ 

An under-fire Mr Williamson yesterday broke cover to guarantee every school in England will be supplied with coronavirus home tests to hand out to parents when they reopen next week.

The Education Secretary used an interview to pledge that teachers would be able to send ill children home with a kit so that a family member can use it to quickly determine whether they have Covid-19.

Staff will also be allowed to use the swab kits under guidance that says they should be handed out by teachers ‘where they think providing one will significantly increase the likelihood of them (the ill person) getting tested.’

Under guidance issued by the Department for Education, if the child tests negative either using a home kit or after visiting a testing centre they can return to school with the minimum of disruption.

If they test positive they must quarantine at home while the school takes steps to limit the spread.

But many have questioned whether every school getting Covid-19 home testing kits before September is an achievable feat in the first place – with sceptical parents vowing to hold the Education Secretary to his word.

General Secretary of the Teachers’ Union Dr Patrick Roach said: ‘We wait with interest to see more detail about the Education Secretary’s promise of home testing kits for use by schools.

‘It is important that this latest announcement from Ministers delivers on substance and that there is an adequate supply of testing kits to help keep schools safe not just on the first day back at school but throughout the term and beyond.’

Ministers have said that it will be compulsory for pupils to attend classes, with the risk of fines for parents who did not comply – although Mr Williamson said they would only be used as a last resort.

Local authorities can fine parents £120 – cut to £60 if paid within 21 days – over a child’s absence from school, with the threat of prosecution if they fail to pay.

Mr Williamson said: ‘In terms of fining, we would ask all schools to work with those parents, encourage them to bring their children back, deal with concerns that they have and fining would be very much the last resort, as it has always been.’

Public Health England data showed the partial reopening of schools before the summer holidays resulted in just one in 23,000 children catching coronavirus.

Some 70 children tested positive out of more than 1.6 million who were in class, with many confirmed as having the disease actually being asymptomatic.

But some 128 staff members tested positive, with most transmission believed to have taken place between adults.

Public Health England data has shown that teachers are more likely to be infected than their pupils, after one in 23,000 students tested positive during the partial reopening of schools before the summer holidays.

Yesterday, 17 staff and two pupils have tested positive for coronavirus at a school in Dundee just two weeks after schools in Scotland reopened following lockdown.  



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Wayne Bennett makes 11th hour pitch to Joseph Suaalii as D-day nears for star teen


“One thing I know about all of it is that if he comes to this club, there is no one more experienced than I am at bringing young players through the NRL,” Bennett said.

“I’ve brought that many young players through from my 33 years of coaching. They need good people around them and they need good clubs to come to and I think South Sydney know that.

“I don’t think that, I know South Sydney provides all of that.”

Joseph Suaalii is a young man in demand.

Joseph Suaalii is a young man in demand.Credit:Paul Seiser/SPA Images

The ARL Commission will consider bending rules for Suaalii that state players must not make their NRL debut until they turn 18.

Bennett was happy to hear that when he spoke to reporters on Wednesday.

“Players mature a lot earlier these days,” Bennett said. “They physically don’t mature earlier, but they certainly do mentally because of all that is happening around them. At 17 or 18, there’s not much difference. He will turn 18 in that year as well.”

South Sydney’s senior management has long believed Suaalii could be the club’s long-term fullback, but with Latrell Mitchell now entrenched in the famous No.1 jersey, the star teen may be forced to bide his time on the wing.

Bennett has traditionally erred on the side of easing players with considerable talent at such a young age through the grades and he intends on treating Suaalii the same way.

“Talent is the beginning for all these young men and he has lots of talent,” Bennett said. “There is a lot of work in front of them all, but he came into the pre-season with us and he certainly looked like he was prepared to pay the price you have to pay to have all of that talent come to the forefront.

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“A lot of young guys lose their way who do have talent because they won’t make the sacrifices that are necessary. But he’s certainly got the talent and I’m sure he will make the most of it.”

Mitchell will make his return from a two-game suspension on Thursday night and will proudly pull on Souths’ Indigenous jersey.

“It means so much to the players here so you have to buy into it and I’m happy to be a part of it,” Bennett said. “South Sydney has a rich history here with Indigenous people and I’m just privileged to be a part of this game. I know how much it means to the players and the club.”



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George Floyd death: Protesters use curfew lifting to demonstrate against police brutality for 11th night | US News


Protesters across the United States used the lifting of curfews to demonstrate against police brutality of black people for the 11th night.

Some cities, including New York and Buffalo, stuck to evening curfews, but thousands still marched in support of Black Lives Matter following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes on 25 May.

Officer Derek Chauvin, who can be seen in a video placing his knee on Mr Floyd’s neck, had his charge upgraded to second-degree murder, while three other officers appeared in court on Thursday charged with aiding and abetting murder and aiding and abetting manslaughter.

Image:
Protesters walked arm-in-arm with police in Detroit, Michigan

Most of Friday night’s protests were peaceful, with Minneapolis and St Paul no longer under curfew and the state of Minnesota planning to start sending state troopers and National Guard members back home on Saturday.

The two cities had seen violent protests and looting last week as anger over another black person being killed in police custody boiled over but protests have largely remained peaceful this week.

Minneapolis also agreed on Friday to ban police using chokeholds and neck restraints, with several other cities and states following suit, including California whose governor ordered the teaching of chokeholds to be halted.

Seattle’s mayor placed a ban on police using one type of tear gas, CS gas, for 30 days after concerns were raised that its use could help spread coronavirus.

In Washington DC, a street in front of the White House was renamed “Black Lives Matter Plaza” and the slogan painted in huge yellow letters on the road after the mayor approved the plan in an apparent rebuke of Donald Trump’s militaristic response to the protests.

In Salem, Oregon, the police chief apologised on Friday after video showed a police officer speaking to armed men about curfews that critics say showed authorities treating the men with weapons differently to other protesters.

The officer could be seen telling the armed group to get off the pavement before police started to enforce the curfew, saying they could be inside a business or their car so “it doesn’t look like we are playing favourites”.

Black lives matter painted across Washington D.C. street
Image:
Black lives matter painted across Washington D.C. street

Meanwhile, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL had made mistakes in not listening to players.

In a videotaped message, he said: “We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people. We, the National Football League admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.

“I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much needed change in this country. Without black players, there would be no National Football League.”

The NFL has been locked in a debate with players over kneeling protests during the national anthem before games, a practice made popular by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is black, in 2016 to protest against racial injustice and police brutality.

Mr Trump, who derided the kneeling players as “sons of bitches” in 2017, criticised their actions again on Twitter earlier on Friday.



Police walked side by side with protesters during a March for Peace in Las Vegas, Nevada, on June 3.

Facebook Live footage co-organizer Latasha Pippen at the front of the march with the officers behind her.



Police walk in solidarity with protesters

In Buffalo, New York, all 57 members of a police tactical unit resigned in protest after two colleagues were suspended for pushing a 75-year-old protester to the ground.

They said the officers were “simply following orders” to clear the square. The man hit his head and remains in a stable but serious condition in hospital.

And in Las Vegas a 20-year-old protester was accused of shooting and gravely injuring a police officer during a demonstration on the Strip.

A judge set bail on Friday at $1m (£770,000) for Edgar Samaniego, saying police video shows the shooting and the officer, Shay Mikalonis remains in hospital in a critical condition after surgery for a head wound.

Samaniego’s lawyer said he will plead not guilty to attempted murder and other charges when he appears in court again on 30 July.

Hundreds of medical professionals in St Louis, Missouri, protested
Image:
Hundreds of medical professionals in St Louis, Missouri, protested

As the protests continue, several celebrities and large organisations, including basketball legend Michael Jordan and the Jordan Brand, announced a $100m (£77.3m) donation to racial equality and social justice organisations.

The money will be paid over 10 years with the goal of “ensuring racial equality, social justice and greater access to education”, a joint statement said.

Facebook said it has removed nearly 200 accounts linked to white supremacy groups that were planning to encourage members to attend the protests – in some cases with weapons.

The Facebook and Instagram accounts were tied to the Proud Boys and the American Guard, two hate groups already banned on the platforms.

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian resigned from the discussion website on Friday and said his spot should be filled by a black candidate.

Ohanian, who is married to tennis legend Serena Williams, said he wanted to be able to tell their two-year-old daughter what he did to show support to the black community in the US.

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Around the world, from California to Indonesia, Australia and Senegal, black female surfers floated on surfboards to pay tribute to Mr Floyd.

The “Solidarity in Surfing” events in more than 100 locations were organised by Black Girls Surf, a group founded in 2014 to teach the sport to girls of colour.



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Tasmania records 11th coronavirus death, the third north-west death in three days


Updated

April 26, 2020 15:39:43

A man in his 90s has died of coronavirus in Tasmania overnight, becoming the 11th Tasmanian to succumb to COVID-19.

Tasmania COVID-19 snapshot

  • Confirmed cases: 208
  • Deaths: 11, 10 in north-west

What do I do if I think I have coronavirus?
If you think you might have COVID-19 because you feel unwell with a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath and have travelled recently or had contact with a confirmed case, phone your GP or the Tasmanian Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738.

Testing criteria are different for north-west residents.

Need an interpreter?
Phone the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450 and tell them your language.

For more information and factsheets:
Visit the Tasmanian Government’s coronavirus page here.

The man was being cared for at the Mersey Community Hospital in Latrobe.

It comes a day after another man in his 90s died from the disease at the same hospital, and is the third death announced in three days.

The Government has confirmed a man who tested positive on Saturday was a worker in the hospital’s COVID-19 ward.

Ten of Tasmania’s 11 COVID-19 deaths relate to the major outbreak in the state’s north-west.

On Friday, the Government said a 79-year-old woman who had been a resident at a north-west nursing home had died while being cared for at the Launceston General Hospital.

Health Minister Sarah Courtney expressed her condolences over the latest death.

“I’d like to pass on my sincere sympathies to that man’s family, both men’s families and loved ones,” she said.

“This is a very challenging time for them and the entire north-west community.”

At 6:00pm on Saturday, one further case was confirmed, bringing the state’s total to 208.

Ms Courtney said the man who tested positive had been working on the coronavirus-positive ward at the Mersey hospital.

“We are working swiftly and have been overnight to identify close contacts,” she said.

“I would like to reassure other staff at that site that this gentleman has presented swiftly.

“We have worked very closely with him overnight with regards to that and he did only work within the COVID ward at that hospital.

Public Health Director Mark Veitch said the health worker had very few contacts and they had been advised and were in quarantine. 

“This healthcare worker took themselves off work as soon as they had symptoms, which is exactly what we expect health care workers to do, and reduces substantially the [transmission] risk.”

Aim for ‘safe’ return of North West Regional Hospital

The Health Minister said staff at the North West Regional Hospital should be back to work soon, with more support.

“We have identified and engaged with the staff that will be taking over from the emergency department, our staff, so that is going to be happening in coming days,” Ms Courtney said.

“They’re all going to be tested before they come back to work. They have all responded very positively to that.

“We are also going through a process over the coming days around providing further support with PPE and usage.

Ms Courtney said the State Government wanted the hospital up and running as soon as safely possible.

“We know that other areas of the hospital are being prioritised, particularly emergency maternity provision,” she said.

“In regards to rest of site, they’re being prioritised based on clinical need, and ensuring we can do it in a way that areas are safe.”

“I can’t give a specific timeline, I want to make sure that these are done properly.”

What the experts are saying about coronavirus:

Public responds to testing plea

On Saturday, 509 Tasmanians went to city-based respiratory clinics and the mobile clinic at Smithton for testing.

“A tremendous number of people have come out and got tested, from the northwest in particular, over the last several days,” Dr Veitch said.

“And it’s gratifying that amongst all that testing there’s been relatively few positive test results.”

“Quite a lot of those people being tested will be healthcare workers who are participating in testing as part of a return to work process.”

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak

Health authorities are urging anyone with respiratory symptoms to get tested.

“It’s very important we maintain that testing of people with even minor respiratory symptoms over the next few days,” he said.

“It’s going to give us incredibly important information that will inform decisions about public health measures that are currently in place and how we may be in a position to adjust those in the coming week or so.

“So that’s why we want you to come forward, even if you just have a sniffle.”

​The tally of Tasmanians who have recovered and been released from isolation is 123.

Topics:

covid-19,

diseases-and-disorders,

health,

tas,

burnie-7320,

hobart-7000,

launceston-7250

First posted

April 26, 2020 11:23:16



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