Australia's first coronavirus death is man, 78, returned from Diamond Princess cruise ship

In a photo taken on Jan 29, 2020, people wearing face masks walk by Flinders Street Station after cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in Melbourne. PHOTO: REUTERS

MELBOURNE/SYDNEY (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - Australia reported its first death of a coronavirus patient in a hospital in the western city of Perth early on Sunday (March 1), health official Andrew Robertson said.

The 78-year-old had been in quarantine after being evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, and was among more than 150 Australians taken off the vessel.

"Our condolences are with his family and unfortunately he's the first death we've had from coronavirus in Australia," Mr Robertson, the chief health officer of Western Australia state, told journalists.

The man was initially sent to the Howard Springs facility in northern Australia after being quarantined aboard the ship and was then moved to the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth where he died on Sunday morning, he said.

The man's wife also caught the virus, but is in stable condition.

Elsewhere in the country, two cases emerged in recent days in Sydney and the Gold Coast after those people returned from trips to Iran.

Australia's tally of virus infections stands at 25, the latest government figures show.

On Saturday, Australia said it would deny entry to all foreigners travelling from Iran because of the spreading virus in the Islamic republic.

There have been almost 87,000 virus infections worldwide, the majority in China, the World Health Organisation said. Outside China, it has spread to more than 60 countries, with over 7,000 cases and 108 deaths.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.