Man becomes first Australian to die from coronavirus

Brooke Rolfe
News Reporter

Australia’s first coronavirus victim has died after arriving in Western Australia from the contaminated Diamond Princess cruise ship.

The 78-year-old died in Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital early on Sunday morning, according to WA Health Deputy Chief Health Officer and Director Andrew Robertson.

The elderly man was one of 164 Australians being held in isolation in Japan and arrived in Western Australia on Friday, on board a Royal Flying Doctor Service flight.

Mr Robertson said on Sunday the man was diagnosed with the illness about nine days ago while being held at the Howard Springs quarantine camp in the Northern Territory.

An ambulance leaves Yokohama Port in Japan on February 24. Source: AP

The man’s wife, 79, also tested positive to the virus a couple of days ago, Mr Robertson said.

“She had the opportunity to talk to him prior to his death, she’s obviously understandably quite upset,” he said.

Family were able to speak with the man Saturday night via phone and through the glass on the wall of his room, according to Mr Robertson.

“We will continue to work with the family to ensure that they get all the support that they require in this very tragic time.”

Australian evacuees from the Diamond Princess are seen after arriving at Howard Springs on February 20. Source: AAP

He said the man’s wife remained in isolation in a negative pressure room at the hospital and was in a stable condition.

Initially the elderly man had appeared stable, but his condition deteriorated.

It was understood he may have had an underlying medical condition, but the exact type was not known.

The man and his wife contracted COVID-19 onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was docked in Yokohama while passengers were quarantined.

The man was being kept in isolation at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital before he died early Sunday morning. Source: AAP

His death comes after Australia enforced a ban on foreigners entering the country from Iran to come into force on Sunday.

The measure was prompted by the high death rate in Iran, where the coronavirus outbreak has killed 34 people.

The travel advisory was raised to "do not travel" following a case of a 63-year-old Gold Coast woman whose coronavirus was undetected on leaving Iran.

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