For many mainlanders Tasmania often flies under the radar. Not so right now. Front and centre is Peter Gutwein.
The Premier. Well, than man who will enter Day No.85 of the stewardship of his state tomorrow. Immediately before that he spent a number of years as the state's treasurer.
But little if anything could have prepared the 55-year-old for what's on his plate: an outbreak of COVID-19 which is crippling Tasmania's north-west.
Yesterday Mr Gutwein told Tasmanians two hospitals on the north-west coast would shut in the hope a coronavirus outbreak could be contained. That happened today and "deep cleaning" will take place at both the North-West Regional and North-West Private hospitals in Burnie. While that's being done, more than 1000 hospital staff and their families will isolate for 14 days.
"That will mean that we will have somewhere between, we expect, 4000 and 5000 people in the north-west that will be quarantined for the next 14 days," Mr Gutwein explained. "That is unprecedented."
Tasmania has recorded 11 more cases of COVID-19 overnight, eight were health care workers. Of 144 coronavirus cases in Tasmania, 60 are linked to the northwest cluster, including 42 healthcare workers and eight patients. There have been five deaths.
And then the words Mr Gutwein could never have expected to utter: "Unfortunately I think that there will be more deaths to come in coming days and we need to ready ourselves for that".
Investigations are ongoing into how the virus spread, with more expected to be known in the next week.
In other domestic updates, Queensland schools will remain open during term two for the children of essential workers and vulnerable students; South Australia's coronavirus hotline is expanding with 850 new staff in training this week; and in WA is reporting six new cases overnight, four of which are from a cruise ship.
On the good news front, almost 3340 people in Australia - more than half the total cases - have now recovered.
No surprise though that Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy says it is still too early to relax strict social distancing rules.
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