How Victoria’s overcrowded hospitals are turning into ‘apocalyptic war zones’ as Covid-19 outbreak spirals out of control
- State’s hospitals have become ‘war zones’ amid Delta crisis, health official said
- Official said state government told to brace for surge when lockdown relaxed
- AMA Victorian President Dr Roderick McRae said healthcare system is in crisis
- Said hospitals under ‘extreme strain’ and opening up would make situation worse
Victoria’s overcrowded hospitals are turning into ‘apocalyptic war zones’ as the state’s Delta outbreak threatens to overwhelm its healthcare system, a health official has warned.
Victoria recorded 1,438 new locally-acquired Covid-19 cases on Thursday – its highest number ever. That came three days after triple-zero calls in the state reached their highest level since November 2016.
An anonymous government official said the state’s health watchdog Safer Care Victoria had urged the state government to brace for a Covid-related surge in its hospitals when lockdown measures are relaxed.
‘They basically told us to prepare psychologically because most of Victoria’s going to think ‘this is great’… as a healthcare worker, it’ll feel like a war zone,’ the official told The Age.
‘I just can’t fathom it. Some of the hospitals in Melbourne are already apocalyptic.’
The Australian Medical Association’s Victorian President Dr Roderick McRae on Thursday morning said the state’s hospitals were now in crisis mode.
As of Wednesday, there were 371 Covid-19 patients in hospitals across Victoria, of which 81 are in the ICU.
‘Everybody at every stage of the Victorian healthcare system is using the word ‘crisis’,’ he told the Today show.
‘The system is under extreme strain and it’s on the back of decades of under-investment.’
He said the already long ambulance and emergency room waiting times in Victoria would be made even worse by rising Covid-19 admissions when the state starts to open up at a 70 per cent double-dose vaccination rate.
‘Think of your bathtub – the pipe is blocked and we still are adding more water and as we open up, it’s like we are looking to jump in as well and expect the floor to stay dry,’ Dr McRae said.
People are seen exercising along the Tan walking track in Melbourne on Sunday, September 19. Victoria recorded 950 new locally-acquired Covid-19 cases on Wednesday
‘We knew that this was going to happen when we did eventually open up. Why wasn’t the system better prepared? We’ve had time.’
The Australian Medical Association’s Victorian President Dr Roderick McRae on Thursday morning said the state’s hospitals were now in crisis mode
Victoria meanwhile has opened the door for residents stranded in Sydney to come home after the state’s construction union headquarters were officially listed as a top-level Covid-19 exposure site.
From Thursday, Victorian residents in extreme risk zones such as Greater Sydney can apply for a permit if they are fully vaccinated, test negative within 72 hours of departure and isolate at home for 14 days.
Those who have been to an exposure site, are close contacts of a COVID-19 case or with symptoms will be knocked back, while non-Victorians are not eligible.
It comes as the CFMEU’s Melbourne headquarters were listed as a COVID-19 exposure site on Wednesday, a week after it was the scene of anti-vaccination protests.
The Elizabeth Street office was named by the Department of Health as a tier-one site for September 20, forcing union staff and officials into isolation for two weeks.
A healthcare worker speaks to a patient before administering a Covid-19 test at a facility in Ballarat in regional Victoria.
The outside of the building has also been classed as a tier-two venue, with protesters asked to get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.
Four positive cases have been linked to the office so far, and CFMEU state secretary John Setka blamed the ‘disgusting behaviour of selfish and reckless’ protesters for the outbreak.
Some of about 500 demonstrators threw bottles at Mr Setka and smashed the office’s door down on September 20, igniting days of protests that culminated in mobs taking over the West Gate Bridge and Shrine of Remembrance.