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‘Our lives will never be the same’: Victorian healthcare worker dies of coronavirus

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

A frontline healthcare worker has been identified as one of the latest Victorians to die of coronavirus.

A frontline healthcare worker has been identified as one of the latest Victorians to die of coronavirus.

Sumith Premachandra, 54, died at Dandenong Hospital of COVID-19 yesterday.

His daughter, Sharyn, shared a heartfelt tribute with 9News, saying their family's lives had changed forever.

"He was on the frontline as healthcare worker, as a disability nurse and he loved his work," she said.

"He leaves behind a beautiful wife, a beautiful ex-wife, two loving daughters, two devoted sons-in-law and two gorgeous grandsons.

"Our lives will never be the same."

Sharyn said her dad would be dearly missed by all his beloved family.

"Dad was so charismatic. He lit up a room. He made everyone laugh," she said.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos confirmed the additional two Victorian deaths today, taking the state's death toll to 10.

The second death was a woman in her 80s, who died at home yesterday.

There are now 1158 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Victoria, an increase of 23 from yesterday.

"Sadly, we have lost two Victorians from coronavirus since yesterday," she told reporters at a press conference.

"A man in his 50s who has died in hospital and a woman in her 80s who has died at home.

"This brings the total of Victorians who have died as a result of COVID-19 to a total of 10 to date and my thoughts are with both of these individuals families."

There are 88 cases which may indicate community transmission, 45 people in hospital and 11 patients in intensive care.

The total number of cases includes 608 men and 550 women. Cases range in age from babies to their early nineties.

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Minister Mikakos urged people to stay strong and stay home to safe lives.

"It's been three weeks since Victoria declared a state of emergency and 72 days since the first person in our state was diagnosed with COVID-19.

"I know it feels so much longer. Stay strong Victorians, stay home, hold the line - lives depend on it."

Victoria broadens COVID-19 testing criteria

Victoria will broaden COVID-19 testing criteria from today to get clearer results surrounding the extent of community transmission.

Individuals aged 65-years or older, those part of an occupational group including childcare, education, emergency medical responders and firefighters, who meet the clinical criteria of fever or acute respiratory symptoms, are now eligible to get tested for coronavirus, regardless of whether they have been overseas.

"We are now broadening our testing criteria to get a clearer picture of the extent of community transmission," Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said.

"I need to stress that they need to have the relevant clinical symptoms before they would be eligible for testing."

Ms Mikakos said the declining number of overseas travellers returning to Australia made the testing change possible.

There are currently 34 COVID-19 testing clinics up and running in the state, with another three public health services offering testing capacity from next week.

"I do think it is important that we have expanded the testing criteria," Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said.

"We can focus on those with compatible symptoms - coughs, sore throat, runny nose with or without a fever, and get them tested, then we will be able to see how much community transmission there might be."

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Easter long weekend crackdown

Holidaymakers have been issued a stern warning to "stay home" over the Easter period, even if they have already booked accommodation.

However people with a second residence in the state have been granted travel permission providing they are travelling with their household only, Prof Sutton said.

"I hope people also do the right thing over the Easter period."
Easter Bunny alongside basket of eggs

"We are saying that you need to stay at home. Those public- health directives still apply through the Easter period.

"But if they are going to an otherwise second home ... if your intention was to go there as a family, the same people at your permanent place of residence, then the risk does not change.

"But a new mix of people, new bookings, they are not allowed and people should not be introducing that risk into those communities."

Minister Mikakos said authorities were still planning for the virus peak to occur around May-June.

"We shouldn't get too excited about the slowing down of the growth rate," she said.

Source: 9News

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