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  • Australia death toll from coronavirus is 2

    Author: AAP

Some 10,000 people across the country have been tested for COVID-19 with more than 40 confirmed cases, of whom 21 have now been cleared.

Australians have been told it's not sensible to bulk-buy toilet paper as the number of coronavirus cases rises across the country, including in NSW which has recorded its first death after an aged care worker tested positive.

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Some 10,000 people across the country have been tested for COVID-19 with more than 40 confirmed cases, of whom 21 have now been cleared.

Two people, a 95-year-old nursing home resident in Sydney and a 78-year-old man in Perth, have died from the infection.

Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy noted most cases in Australia involved people who had travelled from affected countries saying there was only "limited community transmission".


Chief Executive Officer
Alexandra District Health
Registered Nurse, Mana Awhi – Older People's Health
Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand: Te Toka Tumai Auckland

"We are trying to reassure people that removing all of the lavatory paper from the shelves of supermarkets probably isn't a proportionate or sensible thing to do at this time," Prof Murphy told a Senate hearing on Wednesday.

"We are a well-prepared health system but even the best-prepared health systems can face a challenge if you have large outbreaks."

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Wednesday confirmed a worker at the Dorothy Henderson Lodge aged care centre in western Sydney had been diagnosed with COVID-19, placing elderly residents at risk.

The woman aged in her 50s has not recently travelled outside Australia and began experiencing flu-like symptoms from about February 24.

Eleven of the 13 residents for whom she was carer have been placed in isolation.

One of the residents, a 95-year-old woman, was late Wednesday night confirmed at the state's first coronavirus related death.

Another resident, an 82-year-old man, was on Wednesday evening confirmed as having the virus.

Prof Murphy said it's "very unfortunate" the woman may have been working while she was sick, potentially putting elderly residents at risk.

"Obviously this is a concern for residents and relatives," he told reporters in Canberra.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is urging people to go about their normal lives and to use common sense after talking to supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths about the virus' impact on supply chains and consumer behaviour.

Kimberly-Clark, which manufactures toilet paper, is opening up its manufacturing lines in South Australia to deal with shortages.

The prime minister is expected to announce an economic stimulus package within days as the virus wreaks havoc on Australian trade, supply chains and businesses.

The fiscal response would need to be targeted, measured and "very scalable", he told the ABC.

"We'll be announcing those soon and we'll be announcing the key areas we will be targeting at that time."

There are now more than 92,000 cases worldwide in 78 countries including Ukraine and Morocco. Some 3100 people have died.

Australia is considering travel bans for South Korea and Italy where coronavirus outbreaks have taken hold. Bans are already in place for China and Iran.

"There are now a very large number of countries with outbreaks," Prof Murphy said.

"Broad travel bans on many countries are unlikely to do more than slow the rate of importation, and they have a lot of other consequences and they're hard to enforce."

Prof Murphy says anyone returning from a high-risk country needs to be mindful of their health.

"The most important thing is those travellers report any ... symptoms of fever, cough or the like, and contact their medical centre or their hospital to get tested and get advice," he said.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says while there are "real challenges," the government is working to make sure Australians are prepared.

He added there's been an "overwhelming national compliance" with self-isolation within Australia.

Biosecurity control orders can direct Australians suspected of carrying the coronavirus to remain in lockdown.

Human health "response zones" can also be declared, banning people from attending places of mass gatherings like schools and shopping centres.


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