Australia’s coronavirus death toll rises after ‘reclassification’

Chairs and tables are prepared for customers at Bluewater Cafe at Manly, Sydney. Photo: 9News. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

SYDNEY, Jun 25, 2020, ABC News. The number of coronavirus fatalities in NSW has climbed to 51, after an 85-year-old man’s cause of death was reclassified to be due to COVID-19. NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said the man died on April 27 at the Opal Bankstown aged-care facility, ABC News reported.

“The clinical treating doctor diagnosed COVID as contributing, so in accordance with the national guidelines, we’ve included that as a death and that has been updated,” Dr Chant said.

It means Australia’s coronavirus death toll is now 104.

Meanwhile, a school on Sydney’s lower north shore has been closed for cleaning after a Year 2 student tested positive to coronavirus.

NSW Health said the student was from Lane Cove West Public School, and last night told parents to keep their children home while contact tracing could take place.

Dr Chant said was believed the child, 7, may have caught the virus through community transmission.

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“It does highlight that we have evidence of local transmission of COVID-19, albeit at very low levels,” she said.

“We are searching for the source of that infection but … this virus can circulate in the community where it is hard to track down those chains of transmission.”

Dr Chant said the child developed symptoms on Saturday but authorities closed the school as a precaution.

It is the fourth COVID-19 case at a school in Sydney in the past month, and comes amid dwindling NSW community transmission of the virus.

NSW Education Department deputy secretary Murat Dizdar said: “We’re working with NSW Health today and Lane Cove West public school to identify the close contacts of this particular student.”

“NSW Health will be making contact with those particular individuals and their families and provide them with the appropriate advice.”

Of 28 new cases of coronavirus confirmed by NSW health authorities in the past seven days, just one of those cases had an unknown source of infection.

A Sydney man aged in his 30s tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, and health authorities said he had not recently returned from overseas.

The remainder of the past week’s cases in NSW are in hotel quarantine.

The last confirmed case traced back to community transmission was on June 13, when health authorities said two people had caught the virus locally.

One of those two cases was a staff member at Rose Bay Public School, whose positive test forced the campus in Sydney’s eastern suburbs to be closed for cleaning.

In late May, two other eastern suburbs schools — Moriah College and Waverley College — closed after two students tested positive for coronavirus.

Since the pandemic began, Epping Boys High School, Normanhurst West Public School, Warragamba Public School and St Mary’s Senior High School have all closed temporarily due to coronavirus.

In May, as pupils returned to on campuses after an extended period of remote learning, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said cases of coronavirus in school communities were “likely to occur on a regular basis”.

“I anticipate it will happen more frequently but please have confidence we’ve gone through the processes and we know what takes to keep everyone safe when this occurs.”

Ms Berejiklian said she expected it would be “common” for schools to be “shut down temporarily”.

Wednesday saw the second-highest number of daily swabs completed to date, with a total of 17,175 people coming forward to be tested for coronavirus.

Last Thursday, NSW health authorities applauded the public for the “record high” when more than 17,392 swabs were done.

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