Sunshine Coast woman, 77, dies from coronavirus

A SUNSHINE Coast woman has died from novel coronavirus after flying to Sydney in Queensland's first coronavirus fatality as the state recorded its biggest jump in cases to date.

The 77-year-old woman from Noosaville was on a flight to Sydney on Friday when her condition deteriorated significantly.

She was rushed to hospital immediately on landing but could not be revived.

Authorities, who did not know the woman had COVID-19 at the time of her death, confirmed she was infected yesterday as frantic contract tracing to track down others on her flight began.

Her flight number has not been made public.

It's believed the woman had likely contracted the virus from her daughter, who had recently returned from San Francisco and had not been diagnosed with it either.

It's understood the 77-year-old had an underlying medical condition.

Health Minister Steven Miles said he was saddened by the news.

"I'd like to offer my condolences to the family and friends of this woman," Mr Miles said.

"It's a stark reminder of how serious coronavirus is. We all have a role to play in protecting vulnerable people in our community."

News of the death came as Queensland confirmed another 15 new cases of novel coronavirus to take the total to 61, most of them in the southeast and most of them still traced to overseas transmission.

One of them - a 69-year-old-man from Townsville - is being managed by New Zealand authorities after he flew to the country despite having been tested for the virus less than 24 hours before his flight.

Another case was that of an eight-year-old girl being managed on the Gold Coast.

Not all cases are now being treated in hospital, with only the worst cases now being hospitalised.

Queensland's Chief Medical Officer Jeannette Young said the vast majority of people were getting a mild disease.

But she implored sick people to stay home to protect the most vulnerable.

Meanwhile, a Qantas International crew member is in self isolation after testing positive to coronavirus.

The crew member flew from the UK to Australia as a passenger recently and sought medical advice after experiencing mild symptoms.

Health authorities will make contact with those seating in proximity on the flight as is standard procedure for all confirmed coronavirus notifications.

The team member was not symptomatic when operating as crew on any Qantas flights.

The crew member remains in good spirits.

The news comes as Queensland has launched a trial drive-through fever clinic at Caloundra over the weekend as the state steps up its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Health Minister Steven Miles said the drive-through testing facility would help alleviate some of the workload of general practitioners and hospital emergency departments amid an expected surge of COVID-19 patients.

The drive-through facility is based at Caloundra Health Service's Minor Injury and Illness Clinic. A second trial site will be opened at Toowoomba's Baillie Henderson Hospital today.

"People will be asked to remain in their vehicle, and then clinical staff wearing personal protective equipment will test temperature, oxygen saturation, pulse and respiration through the car window," Mr Miles said.

"If people meet the testing criteria, swabs will then be taken and the swabs sent for testing for COVID-19.

"These two drive-through clinics will operate as a trial to test their effectiveness and determine if they would work at other hospital and health service locations to cater for increased demand."

Mr Miles said the drive-throughs would be in addition to fever clinics established across several public hospitals across the state.

He said the Caloundra facility, which launched yesterday, would be open between 8am to 8pm seven days a week. The drive-through centres are already being trialled in South Australia.

Queensland Health has confirmed a 47-year-old man, 61-year-old woman and a 39-year-old woman are all being managed by the Sunshine Coast Public Health Unit after being confirmed with COVID-19.

As the number of patients continues to soar, the state's Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young has made an unusual plea to Queenslanders to put aside politeness and prioritise health and safety.

"Stop shaking hands for a while, is our advice," Dr Young said. "It might seem rude but avoiding unnecessary contact is a smart way of stopping the spread of the virus."

Based on overseas modelling, she has predicted up to 1.25 million Queenslanders will be infected with COVID-19 over six months, as many as 250,000 will need hospital care and 12,500 people could die.

Although she said most people infected with the virus would only develop "very, very mild symptoms".


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