Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews may need surgery after scans confirmed he fractured his spine during a fall.
It is understood doctors will decide on Wednesday whether the 48-year-old will need surgery, after scans confirmed he has fractured the T7 vertebrae in the middle of his spine.
He also broke several ribs, although concerns he may have punctured a lung have not been realised.
The surgery would require inserting screws or pins into his spine, with recovery expected to take weeks.
Earlier on Wednesday, orthopaedic surgeon Dr John Cunningham – who is not the Premier’s doctor – said injuries of such nature caused “significant trauma”.
“Speaking in general terms … a T7 fracture is actually in the area close to the spinal cord,” he told Melbourne radio 3AW.
“It’s very serious and should be treated with the utmost care.”
Mr Andrews was taken to hospital early on Tuesday after slipping on wet stairs at a Mornington Peninsula holiday rental while getting ready for work.
“Early [Tuesday] morning, I was admitted to hospital after slipping and falling on wet and slippery stairs,” he said.
“A CT scan has revealed several broken ribs and vertebrae damage, and subsequent medical advice has recommended I remain in intensive care for the next few days.”
Mr Andrews was initially treated at the Peninsula Private Hospital but was transferred to The Alfred trauma centre in Melbourne on Tuesday night after specialists assessed an MRI scan.
“This is a precautionary measure to ensure he has the most appropriate care available given the nature of his injuries,” a state government spokeswoman said in a statement.
“The Premier and his family thank the dedicated staff at Ambulance Victoria, Peninsula and the Alfred for their professionalism and care.”
Dr Cunningham said it was “quite sensible” for someone with the Premier’s injuries to be placed in intensive care or a high-dependency unit.
He expected the Premier to be off work for “at least four to six weeks”.
In Mr Andrews’ absence, Deputy Premier James Merlino will be acting premier.
Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said Mr Andrews was in “good spirits”.
“[His wife] Cath and the kids are feeling well supported and are very thankful. The Premier is very thankful for all the medical attention he has been in receipt of,” she said.
“He is in the very best of hands and I certainly wish him a speedy and full recovery so we can have him back on board as soon as possible.”
Mr Andrews fronted 120 consecutive daily press conferences during the state’s second wave of coronavirus.
He has been the leader of the Victorian Labor party since 2010 and premier since 2014.
The Victorian government is expected to provide an update later.
No date has yet been given for Mr Andrews’ release from hospital. Victoria’s Parliament next sits on March 16 – and Mr Andrews appears likely to be absent.
The Premier’s office has been asked if any plans are in place if Mr Andrews is still away next week.