A Melbourne doctor who treated at least 70 patients at his clinic and saw two others at a nursing home has been diagnosed with coronavirus, sparking fury and concern.
There are now 11 confirmed cases in Victoria, bringing the total number across Australia to at least 65.
New South Wales now has the highest number of cases with 28 infected, while there is one confirmed case each in Northern Territory and Tasmania.
South Australia has seven confirmed cases while Queensland now has a total of 14 confirmed cases.
The Victorian doctor, a GP aged in his 70s, became unwell on a flight from the United States to Australia at the end of a holiday, but went back to work at The Toorak Clinic in Toorak for five days anyway.
He was last night diagnosed with the potentially deadly virus and Victorian Health authorities have been in touch with those who came in contact with him, urging them to self-isolate for 14 days.
“I have to say I am flabbergasted that a doctor that has flu-like symptoms has gone to work,” the state’s Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said.
The man became unwell on a flight from Denver, Colorado to San Francisco in California on February 27, and then flew on to Melbourne on United Airlines flight 0060, arriving on the morning of February 29.
On Monday, he went to work at The Toorak Clinic on Malvern Road in the suburb of Toorak and saw at least 70 patients between then and Friday.
“Patients have been contacted via text message this morning, or were called this morning, they will be followed up with emails,” Ms Mikakos said.
“This doctor also attended two patients at a nursing home in Malvern during that time. The two nursing home patients have been isolated in their rooms and the department is working to provide support care for these residents.”
Victoria’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Brett Sutton told reporters there was a chance he infected some of his patients.
The doctor is now recovering in isolation but his decision to keep working when he was clearly ill has sparked anger from the government.
“I understand our medical and healthcare workers are dedicated to the work they do,” Ms Mikakos said.
“But it is irresponsible for people to be going to work if they are unwell, and that is not just healthcare workers, it is everybody in the community who needs to take this very seriously.”
The Toorak Clinic has been shut down until further notice.
Federal authorities are also working to obtain the passenger manifest from the flight the man was on, so those who came in contact with him on board can be contacted, she said.
“Passengers will be contacted as soon as it is made available.”
Meanwhile, Ms Mikakos announced that two international students at a school in Shepparton have tested negative for the virus.