Victoria’s acting premier says Premier Daniel Andrews is “up and about” after fracturing his spine in a frightening fall earlier in the week.
Acting Premier James Merlino said he spoke to Mr Andrews by phone on Thursday morning.
“He’s fine, he was up and about … but this is the first few days since he suffered this serious injury, so his focus is getting better and the care he needs,” he said.
Mr Andrews is in the trauma unit at Melbourne’s The Alfred hospital. Doctors are yet to decide whether he will need surgery after he fractured the T7 vertebrae in the middle of his spine and broke several ribs falling down stairs on Tuesday.
“It was great to touch base with him, make sure he’s OK. It was great to hear his voice,” Mr Merlino said.
“This is quite serious but he’s in the best place, getting the best care at The Alfred [and] all the love and support of his family.
“I look forward to his recovery and returning to the job but at the moment, his complete focus needs to be on his recovery.”
Mr Andrews could be off work for up to three months after Tuesday’s frightening fall, according to Greg Etherington, a consultant spine. He is not working on the Premier’s case, but said that’s how long he usually told his patients their recovery would take.
Mr Merlino said he would continue to update Victorians on the Premier’s condition.
“Over the next few days we’ll know more in terms of Dan’s treatment plan and his recovery,” he said.
A government source has said there remains a “50-50 chance” Mr Andrews will require surgery on his fractured vertebrae. Any surgery would be followed by months of recuperation.
Mr Merlino, who has been deputy premier since 2014, sought to reassure Victorians he would be able to fill Mr Andrews’ shoes for a longer period if required.
“We made a commitment back in 2014 when we first came into government to not waste a day,” he said.
“Government will continue. I’ll be the acting premier, leading cabinet.”
Mr Andrews slipped on wet stairs at a Mornington Peninsula holiday rental while getting ready for work on Tuesday morning.
He was initially treated at Peninsula Private Hospital but transferred to The Alfred after specialists assessed an MRI scan.
Associate Professor Steve McGloughlin, the head of the intensive care unit at The Alfred said the Premier was “comfortable and his pain is well-controlled”.
“A multidisciplinary team including intensive care, trauma and orthopaedic specialists has developed a treatment plan, together with the Andrews family,” Professor McGloughlin said late on Wednesday.
“Mr Andrews has sustained some serious injuries and his condition is being monitored closely. At this stage there is no immediate plan for surgery.”
He has been cleared of any internal or head injuries.
“Heartfelt thanks to the entire team at @AlfredHealth for taking such good care of me. We’re so very grateful,” Mr Andrews tweeted on Wednesday.