News National Victoria prepares for ‘tens of thousands’ of hospital admissions as virus cases surge

Victoria prepares for ‘tens of thousands’ of hospital admissions as virus cases surge

The global death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 3000. Photo: Getty
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Victorian hospitals are preparing to treat potentially “tens of thousands” of coronavirus patients as the number of confirmed cases jumped across Australia on Tuesday.

NSW confirmed two new COVID-19 infections, in a 53-year-old man who recently travelled to Singapore and a 39-year-old man who travelled from Iran.

That brought the number of positive tests in NSW to 13 and followed the first confirmed cases on Monday of person-to-person transmission of the deadly infection in Australia.

Earlier, Queensland confirmed its 10th case of coronavirus, in a 20-year-old man from China. He was in a stable condition in isolation in the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital on Tuesday.

Late on Tuesday afternoon, the Nine Network reported another suspected coronavirus case in Victoria. It said a male patient had been taken by ambulance from a flight landing at Avalon Airport, south-west of Melbourne.

The new confirmed cases (excluding the latest reported Victorian patient) bring the total infections of the deadly disease across Australia to 34.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said the University of Queensland student returned to Australia on February 23, after a fortnight in Dubai.

He reportedly fell ill about two days later but went to hospital only on Sunday.

Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young said authorities were trying to trace all those the man had had contact with since returning to Brisbane.

‘Tens of thousands’ needing care

In Melbourne, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews warned Australia’s current containment strategy for coronavirus would eventually have to be modified.

“If we get to what many believe to be an inevitable pandemic phase – so where containment no longer works and we finish up with more and more transmission at a local level – we’ll have tens of thousands of people who will need care,” Mr Andrews said on Tuesday.

“Some will be able to get that care in primary care settings, some may need because of underlying conditions or the severity of their case, they’ll need to be admitted to hospitals.

“That’s why we’re creating additional space, doing that detailed planning work, so that the inevitable large number of people who will be presenting to hospitals who wouldn’t normally be there can have every confidence that they’ll get the very best care possible.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed there have been 34 COVID-19 cases in Australia so far. Photo: AAP

On Tuesday afternoon, Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged people to “go about their lives” as Australia’s chief medical officer Dr Brendan Murphy said there was no reason to “panic buy”.

“I am looking forward to getting to places of mass gathering, particularly if it involves my football team playing, or going to kids’ concerts or doing any of these things,” Mr Morrison said.

“Australians should continue to go about their lives and our normal way and just exercise commonsense.”

Professor Murphy said the small number of COVID-19 cases in Australia was controlled.

“The community can be reassured that there is no reason to change normal behaviours, no reason to go and panic by and do things that are unnecessary,” he said.

“We are working very closely as a unified health system to deal with this issue.”

Chinese students bypass China travel ban

Some students are bypassing the ban on people from China entering Australia by quarantining themselves for a fortnight in third countries before coming to Australia.

Student One CEO Tim Weston said the accommodation service was working with more than 150 students who were still in China and had put off bookings.

“We anticipate a very small number may arrive having spent 14 or more days outside of China in another country,” he said.

“However, we anticipate that the vast majority will arrive once the ban is lifted.”

-with AAP