A 78-year-old man died in a Perth hospital yesterday, marking Australia’s first COVID-19 fatality, after returning from the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of Japan last month, while a 35-year-old Thai man who also had dengue fever died in Thailand on Saturday.
The Australian man was initially sent to the Howard Springs facility in northern Australia after becoming ill on the flight back from Japan and was then moved to the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth, where he died yesterday morning.
His 79-year-old wife, who also tested positive for the virus, remains isolated in the hospital in a stable condition and there is no risk to the community, said Andrew Robertson, Western Australia’s chief health officer.
Elsewhere in the country, two new cases emerged in the past few days in Sydney and the Gold Coast after a man and a woman returned from trips to Iran.
Australia over the weekend banned incoming travel from Iran for non-nationals, and Australian Minister of Health Greg Hunt said he has asked the deputy chief medical officer, Paul Kelly, to consider the appropriate level of travel advice for Italy.
Restrictions on travel from China were extended last week.
“Right from the outset, we’ve made it clear that we will take strong action, but that Australia is not immune,” Hunt said in Melbourne yesterday.
There are now 27 confirmed cases in Australia, he said.
The death came just days after the Australian government activated an emergency plan to deal with the outbreak, when Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the risk of a global pandemic is “very much upon us.”
Thailand has recorded 42 cases since January, with 30 of those recovering and 11 still being treated in hospitals, the Thai Department of Disease Control said.
Thai health officials said the dead man had worked in the retail sector, where he had come into contact with many tourists during the early stages of the outbreak.
“This was a case of local transmission, and he was at risk, because he had exposure to Chinese tourists,” department Director-General Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoen told a news conference.
The patient was first admitted to a private hospital for dengue fever on Jan. 27. He was later diagnosed with COVID-19 and on Feb. 5 transferred to the government’s main treatment center, Suwanchai said.
He died from multiple-organ failure late on Saturday.
New measures to deal with the spread of the disease — earlier introduced by Thailand’s National Committee on Communicable Diseases — came into effect yesterday.
Health officials can now order those suspected of being infected to be quarantined and to undergo treatment. Officials can also order the closure of venues and public areas to contain the virus.
China yesterday reported 35 more deaths from COVID-19, taking the toll in the country to 2,870.
The number was lower than the 47 fatalities reported by Chinese authorities on Saturday.
The Chinese National Health Commission also reported 573 new infections, bringing the total number of cases in mainland China to 79,824.
Armenia yesterday confirmed its first case of COVID-19, an Armenian citizen who recently returned from Iran and who was in a stable condition in hospital.
The British government said there were 12 new confirmed cases yesterday, increasing the total to 35.
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