Canberra has recorded its first case of coronavirus, the ACT Government has confirmed.
- A man in his 30s returned a positive test to COVID-19 on Thursday morning
- He has not been overseas in the past fortnight, but has been interstate
- Until now the ACT had been the only Australian jurisdiction without a confirmed coronavirus case
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the man, in his 30s, became unwell on Tuesday, and returned a positive result to tests this morning.
“I regret to inform Canberrans that we have our first case of COVID-19 in the territory,” Mr Barr said in a press conference.
“We were, of course, expecting COVID-19 to come to the territory, and following this confirmation now every state and territory in Australia has a confirmed case,” Mr Barr said.
“We are expecting more in the coming weeks.”
The man has not been overseas in the past fortnight, but has been outside the ACT.
Mr Barr confirmed the ACT Health Directorate was “following up close contacts of the confirmed case and taking appropriate public health action in line with national protocols”.
He also asked Canberrans to “work with us to minimise the spread of the virus” by practising good hygiene.
ACT Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerryn Coleman, said the man, who was tested at the Weston Creek Walk-in Centre, would be transferred to Canberra Hospital.
“We have been practising and preparing for this for many weeks now,” she said.
“I can reassure everyone that the hospital and our health staff are very well prepared for this.
“We are now part of the club.”
Conference attendee, ADF member both tested positive to COVID-19
The man is the first Canberra resident to contract COVID-19, despite an attendee to an university conference and an Australian Defence Force (ADF) member who visited Canberra in late February already testing positive to coronavirus.
Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson confirmed an attendee to the conference, held at the National Convention Centre between February 25-27, had tested positive to COVID-19 after returning to their home state.
Ms Jackson reiterated that person was not the Canberra man who tested positive to coronavirus this morning.
“Health authorities have carried out extensive investigations into the source of the infection but have, as yet, been unable to identify the source of the infection [of the attendee],” she said in a statement.
“Now, in line with the advice of ACT Health, we have emailed all delegates and asked them to be alert for any of the symptoms of COVID-19 and supplied health information and contact details.”
The ADF said two officers were to attend a meeting at Defence Headquarters in Russell, but only one did.
The male officer, aged in his 40s, travelled on the 6:45am flight QF1509 from Sydney to Canberra on Saturday.
He then travelled on flight VA651 from Canberra to Sydney at 2:35pm.
He travelled by private car between the airport and Russell.
ACT Health said people seated in rows 2 to 6 on the QF1509 flight and those seated in rows 3 to 7 on the VA651 should self-quarantine until March 13.
Federal Government announce $17.6b stimulus package
In NSW, the total number of infections has risen to 77, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian today announcing a review of mass gatherings following the COVID-19 pandemic declaration.
Meanwhile, American actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson are in hospital on the Gold Coast after testing positive for coronavirus.
This morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled a $17.6 billion stimulus package to deal with the economic damage caused by the pandemic.
Welfare recipients will get a one-off cash payment of $750, and there will also be support payments for businesses to get instant tax relief and to keep apprentices on the payroll.
Also this morning, the World Health Organisation officially declared Coronavirus a pandemic, with world health chiefs saying they can “guarantee” other countries will soon be facing deadly outbreaks on the scale of those seen in Italy and Iran.
Coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It quickly spread across the world, with more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries and 4,291 deaths so far.