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25 March 2020
Victoria’s public hospitals are under direction to start winding back all non-urgent surgery as preparations escalate for the health system to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said while hospital admissions for coronavirus patients remained relatively low, they were rising daily.
She said peak demand for services when the peak of the pandemic hit would test Victorian hospitals.
She said the government was working with public and private hospitals on a system-wide response including how to preserve critical resources for when they would need them most. This meant beds, staff and supplies – not just to care for coronavirus patients but to keep looking after all Victorians in need of emergency and urgent care.
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She said hospitals were under instruction to stop category-three elective surgeries until further notice. Category-two surgeries would only happen if delays posed a serious risk to the health of the patient.
“This is consistent with a decision of the National Cabinet acting on advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee that until further notice all elective surgery, other than urgent cases, will be suspended. This will apply to both public and private hospitals,” Ms Mikakos said.
“This will not affect emergency surgery, or category-one elective surgeries including those booked in as part of our elective-surgery blitz – which are considered the most urgent including urgent heart, neurological and cancer procedures.
“As the pandemic progresses the Department of Health and Human Services will plan for these services to recommence, including surge capacity to reduce waitlists, when it is safe to do so.
“We need to wind-up non urgent surgery because coronavirus cases continue to rise.
“We are making these decisions in order to protect patients, health-care workers and their families from this deadly virus.
“Everybody has a role to play in slowing the spread of coronavirus and to take the pressure off our health system.”
In Victoria the following must close from midnight tonight: auctions and open-house inspections, personal services such as beauty therapy, tanning, massage and tattoo parlours, outdoor and indoor markets, amusement parks and arcades, play centres, galleries, museums, libraries and swimming pools.
This also includes caravan and camping parks, except where the accommodation is for the purposes of respite, for victims of family violence, other vulnerable groups, for care purposes and where people live permanently or as an interim abode where a primary residence is not available.
The total number of positive COVID-19 cases in Victoria is now 466, with 47 in regional areas.
Northern Grampians and Yarriambiack shires each have one confirmed case.
Wimmera Healthcare Group is providing official coronavirus screening at the east end of the Wyuna Sub-Acute Unit to fast-track assessments for Horsham district residents. The clinic will be open every day including weekends.