Prime Minister accuses north-west Tasmanian aged care worker of being dishonest about contacts

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has alleged the unidentified health care worker – who worked at the North West Regional Hospital and Private Hospital as well as three aged care homes in the area – did not disclose their contacts to contact tracing teams.

“We’ve had someone down there not tell the truth to the contact tracers about where they’d been and who they’d been with and that means that a lot of people have been put at risk in north-west Tasmania,” he told Triple M Hobart.

“They have been working in the health system more broadly, in the aged care system, so this has been very unhelpful.”

The worker tested positive to the virus on Thursday after working at the North West Regional Hospital and the North West Private Hospital – which have been at the centre of a COVID-19 outbreak with almost 100 of Tasmania’s 180 positive cases linked to the hospitals including 60 staff and 16 patients.

The worker had also done shifts at three aged care homes – Melaleuca Nursing Home in East Devonport, Eliza Purton Home for the Aged in Ulverstone, and Coroneagh Park in Penguin.

Tasmania’s Director of Public Health Mark Veitch confirmed that the contact tracing team had returned to speak to the worker.

“We know that we may not always pull out all the right details we need, when we ask the questions first time. You don’t want to assume that that’s the end of the story,” he said.

“As a result of that initial investigation, one person was sent home … because they had had contact with the case, when the case had worked at a nursing home about a week earlier.”

However, they “threw the net wider” on their second visit.

“That was why we extended the period of interest, where we thought there was a small risk of infection to the residential aged care facilities,” he said.


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