Australia’s coronavirus death toll has doubled in the past week after two new fatalities in NSW took the national total to 37.
- NSW Health said the number of new coronavirus cases dropped at the weekend
- It encouraged doctors to expand their COVID-19 testing in areas with high numbers of local transmissions
- More than 300,000 people have been swabbed for coronavirus in Australia
NSW Health confirmed an 86-year-old man and a 85-year-old man with COVID-19 died yesterday.
On March 30 Australia had 17 confirmed coronavirus fatalities, but that number has swollen in the past week.
The increase is particularly pronounced in NSW, where there has been 18 COVID-19 deaths, including six in the past two days.
Executive Director NSW Health Protection Dr Jeremy McAnulty said the total number of new cases in the state was decreasing.
In the 24 hours to 8:00pm Sunday, there were 57 new coronavirus infections in NSW, taking the state’s total to 2,637.
“The numbers we are seeing in the last few days have been really hopeful,” Dr McAnulty said.
“It seems that the actions we are taking in terms of case finding and contact tracing have been working.”
The coronavirus-afflicted Ruby Princess arrived in Port Kembla this morning. (ABC News: Jesse Dorsett)
Eleven coronavirus deaths, and more than 600 cases, have been linked to the Ruby Princess cruise ship, which docked at Port Kembla this morning.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said there were 1,040 crew members from 50 different countries still on the ship.
About a fifth of them have COVID-19 symptoms.
Yesterday, police announced a criminal probe to examine if the ship’s operator, Carnival Australia, downplayed potential COVID-19 cases before it docked in Sydney last month.
The ship will get fresh supplies and everyone on board will be tested so healthy crew members will be repatriated.
Dr McAnulty said it was “pleasing” to see a drop in the latest infections figures in NSW, but noted there were fewer tests done at the weekend.
There have been more than 300,000 screenings for the virus done across the country.
A COVID-19 clinic was set up in Bondi last week to increase testing rates. (ABC News: Brendan Esposito)
NSW Health said it was encouraging doctors and clinics to expand their COVID-19 testing in regions where there was evidence of local transmissions.
“So people with symptoms of acute respiratory infection, so cough, shortness of breath, sore throat or fever [should] go talk to their GP or go to a clinic for testing,” Dr McAnulty said.
He said areas which NSW Health were looking to expand screening in Sydney included Ryde, Macquarie Park, Woollahra, Manly, Waverley and Dee Why.
Outside Sydney metropolitan, Dr McAnulty said testing should be increased in Byron, Lake Macquarie, Port Macquarie, Broken Hill and Nowra.
Last week, a pop-up testing clinic was established at Bondi Beach after several backpackers were linked to an outbreak in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.