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Tasmanian healthcare worker tests positive for COVID-19 during outbreak

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

A healthcare worker has tested positive to coronavirus in Tasmania’s northwest after doing shifts at hospitals and nursing homes linked to an outbreak in the state.

A healthcare worker has tested positive to coronavirus in Tasmania's northwest after doing shifts at hospitals and nursing homes.

The worker did shifts at both the North West Regional Hospital and the North West Private Hospital in Burnie and three nursing homes in the state's outbreak region, Public Health Services said.

The homes include; Melaleuca Nursing Home in East Devonport, Eliza Purton Home for the Aged in Ulverstone, and Coroneagh Park in Penguin.

The person was diagnosed with the virus on Wednesday.

An investigation has occurred into their movements while possibly infectious, Public Health Services confirmed.

While there are no other confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the nursing homes, one resident has been tested and results are due on Friday.

Public Health Services' Dr Mark Veitch acknowledged the news may be concerning to nursing home residents and their families.

"We can assure the community that PHS is doing everything it can to work with the facilities to identify any other potential cases. There is currently no outbreak in any Tasmanian nursing home," he said.

Meanwhile, the state hopes to be able to reopen at least one emergency department at the North West Regional Hospital and North West Private Hospital after being shut on Monday for cleaning.

More than 80 of the state's 180 COVID-19 cases are directly linked to an outbreak at the facilities, with 50-plus workers among them.

There was an increase of 11 cases in the state on Thursday.

Health Minister Sarah Courtney anticipates the emergency department services would resume on Friday.

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"We have got experts on the ground working incredibly long hours to make sure this clean is done properly," she said.

"It is a very complex process, we need to make sure that each stage of the clean is verified.

"We need to ensure that when we open it, it is safe for our teams going in there as well as our patients."

Australian Defence Force medicos and an AUSMAT team, usually reserved for international humanitarian relief, landed on Tuesday to help with the clean and provide services.

Colonel David Hughes said it was the first time he knew of ADF and AUSMAT being used in such a way domestically.

The emergency department is being cleaned first, but there is no clear timeline for how long it will take to finish both hospitals.

"The cleaning will unfortunately take as long as it takes. It is important that it is done correctly," Colonel Hughes said.

The state government began a testing blitz in the northwest and is bringing in extra laboratory technology to boost tests to 500 a day.

Anyone with symptoms is being urged to contact the public health hotline or their GP and get tested.

Five of the state's six coronavirus deaths have been at northwest hospitals, including four at the North West Regional Hospital.

More than 1200 staff from the hospitals, plus their families, are undergoing a fortnight in quarantine.

Police, meanwhile, have charged seven people who attended an Easter Sunday party at a home in the northeast town of Winnaleah.

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You can also get up-to-date information from the Federal Government's Coronavirus Australia app, available on the App Store, Google Play and the Government's WhatsApp channel.

Source: 9News

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