Victorian hospitals under pressure

Victoria has recorded 1466 new cases of coronavirus with another eight people having died in the past 24 hours. Mathematically, there is a dip in the seven days average number and “that’s a good thing” said Premier Daniel Andrews but Victorian hospitals are barely coping.

Some experts believe Victoria has peaked in its numbers. Others are not so sure and fear that Victorian hospital system may find it difficult to cope should the numbers get out of hand.

Speaking on Channel 9’s Today program Melbourne epidemiologist Professor Nancy Baxter said if the state eased restrictions, the impact would be more severe than in New South Wales.

“When you start increasing mixing the cases will go up,” she said.

“A lot of those cases will go up. A lot of those cases will be in unvaccinated people who will get sick and potentially need an ICU or hospitalisation.”

Our hospitals are no doubt bracing for a continual surge of patients as COVID-19 cases have doubled in the past fortnight.

There are almost 700 patients battling COVID-19 in Victorian hospitals, with the number of severe cases more than doubling in the past fortnight.

The number of people in ICU has also gone up from 73 to 133, with almost 100 people fighting for life on ventilators.

Also read: Moderna Covid-19 vaccine approved for use in Australia

The Royal Melbourne Hospital’s ICU capacity has been increased by adding another 14 ICU beds for non-COVID patients, in addition to 20 beds for COVID-19 patients in an air-sealed environment.

If things go the wrong way, Victoria may need a lot more additions to its ICU capacity and across more hospitals as well.

Currently despite lockdowns, restrictions and growing vaccination numbers, it cannot be said that our hospitals are not struggling to cope with growing infections.

Yesterday Victorian government announced that in Victoria Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be available to everybody aged 12 or over at its state-run hubs.

That would mean people aged over 60 were are now eligible to receive Pfizer and Moderna vaccines  in addition to the AstraZeneca vaccine at state-run clinics.

With the drive to vaccinate Victoria picking up pace, the government was able to make the change based on “certainty” of sufficient supply of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

All this perhaps signifies the well-intentioned efforts of the state government to open up as soon as possible. Ahead of New South Wales, Victoria became the first Australian jurisdiction to incorporate a person’s vaccination status into the Service Victoria QR code check-in app.

This would give oxygen to the hope that things may ease once the state achieves 70 per cent vaccination levels, although it would be subject to many variables.

As of now, 59.3 per cent of Victorians are fully vaccinated and only 85.8 per cent have had their first dose, not a very encouraging statistic for Victorian hospitals.

BT understands the Victorian Government will spend $2.5 million to recruit up to 1000 healthcare workers from overseas to help to ease the pressure on buckling hospital systems dealing with COVID-19.

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