An elderly woman has become the ninth coronavirus death in Tasmania, as authorities extend the state’s northwest lockdown to mitigate an outbreak.
The 79-year-old, who was from the northwest, died in the Launceston General Hospital overnight on Thursday.
“To the woman’s family, friends and loved ones – I’m sorry. I extend our condolences and sympathies to you all,” Premier Peter Gutwein said.
Mr Gutwein announced tough business restrictions in the northwest would be in place for an extra week until May 3 and testing would be deepened.
More than 130 of the state’s 207 virus cases are from the region, with a cluster of infected health workers forcing the closure of Burnie’s private and public hospitals earlier this month.
An investigation is probing the outbreak’s link to the ill-fated Ruby Princess.
The state’s first three fatalities had been passengers on the cruise ship, with two of them passing away at the North West Regional Hospital in Burnie.
Two new cases, both men in their 20s from the northwest, were confirmed on Friday a day after the state recorded no daily cases for the first time this month.
Mr Gutwein said the signs were promising but he also warned against complacency.
“We don’t think it’s safe for restrictions to be lifted … our priority is to protect the community,” he said.
“It’s not a decision that is taken lightly. But we need to get on top of this. We need to crush this virus.”
Public servants, such as teachers and police officers, in the northwest have been urged to get tested even if they aren’t showing symptoms.
As part of the lockdown, which has shut non-essential retailers, schools in the northwest will be closed for the first four days of term two next week.
Schools across the rest of the state will reopen on April 28, but parents have been asked to keep their children at home if they can.
About 1200 healthcare staff from the NWRH and neighbouring North West Private Hospital are due to come out of a two-week quarantine on Sunday.
They must all return negative tests before being allowed to again work.
Services, most recently emergency maternity, are gradually coming back online at the facilities as a specialist deep clean progresses.
As of Friday afternoon, 106 people had recovered from the virus.
Australian Associated Press