Tassie hospitals close amid outbreak

Tasmania will close and "deep clean" two hospitals at the centre of a coronavirus outbreak in the state's northwest.

The North West Regional Hospital and North West Private Hospital in Burnie will close from 7am on Monday, it was announced by Premier Peter Gutwein.

All hospital staff and their households, more than 1000 people in total, will be placed into quarantine for two weeks.

"I am sorry we need to do this but at the end of the day we need to get on top of this," Mr Gutwein told reporters.

"We need to ensure that we can crush this virus at its source, and with this outbreak we need to take these steps." Forty-nine virus cases are linked to the outbreak at the hospitals, including 35 health workers.

A total of 61 cases have been recorded in the northwest, with the state figure at 133 as of Sunday afternoon.

All patients at the two hospitals will be transferred to other facilities, the majority to the Mersey Community Hospital at nearby Devonport. Specialist teams will then conduct a "deep clean" of the two hospitals.


The North-West regional hospital in Burnie, Tasmania. Picture: Gary McArthur
The North-West regional hospital in Burnie, Tasmania. Picture: Gary McArthur


Mr Gutwein said the state government is aiming to reopen the hospitals in two weeks.

He hoped the emergency department and maternity, cancer and ICU services would be able to be brought back online after 72 hours.

Further restrictions have been placed on retailers in the northwest from midnight on Sunday.

All retailers not providing essential services or goods will be forced to close, including giants K-Mart, Target and Harvey Norman, Mr Gutwein said. "I would hope that at the end of this two-week period we will be able to lift some of these restrictions," Mr Gutwein said.

Tasmania recorded its fifth virus death on Sunday, an elderly woman at the North West Regional Hospital.



Originally published as Tassie hospitals close amid outbreak