Tassie outbreak blamed on dinner party
The Tasmanian police will investigate the claim that an outbreak of coronavirus cases among healthcare workers in two Tasmanian hospitals is linked to an illegal dinner party.
Australia's chief medical officer Dr Brendan Murphy said today the staff from The North West Regional Hospital and North West Private Hospital in Burnie had attended a dinner party, according to reports.
The gathering has now been linked to more than 60 cases of coronavirus in the state including 45 health workers and nine hospital patients.
The two hospitals, which service about 20 per cent of the Tasmanian population, have been closed over the outbreak with patients moved to Mersey Community Hospital for treatment.
Dr Murphy said he thought Australia was going well until the cluster emerged, according to the ABC.
The outbreak has put about 5000 Tasmanians into quarantine - mostly hospital workers and their close contacts.
Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said the police would investigate the claims made by Dr Murphy, but said at this stage the party allegations were "a rumour".
"To be frank, Brendan (Murphy) was commenting on a rumour," Mr Gutwein said, saying contact tracing has not clearly identified the source of the outbreak as "a dinner party of health workers".
But the Premier said the allegations were "serious" and said he'd asked the Tasmanian Police to begin investigating today.
"We need to understand whether or not there is any strength to the rumour because, at the end of the day, I am certain that there are many hardworking health professionals on the northwest coast who feel that their reputations are being maligned … we need to understand exactly what's occurred here," Mr Gutwein said.
He said measures being implemented across the state were working and he urged Tasmanians not to become "complacent".
Authorities hope to reopen the hospitals tomorrow after they are cleaned.
Tasmania has a 150 cases of coronavirus.
Originally published as Tassie outbreak blamed on dinner party