News State Victoria News COVID-positive nurse worked in breach of virus guidelines

COVID-positive nurse worked in breach of virus guidelines

covid nurse epping
The nurse worked with COVID patients at this private hospital, and also at the nearby Northern Hospital. Photo: AAP
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A nurse who has tested positive while working in a COVID-19 ward also worked shifts at a second Melbourne hospital, it has been revealed.

Victoria’s testing commander Jeroen Weimar said he was “exceptionally concerned” about the lapse.

He confirmed the nurse was looking after three COVID-19 patients at Epping Private Hospital.

It has emerged she also worked two shifts at Northern Hospital on June 11-12.

There are now 22 Northern Hospital staff who are isolating for 14 days, as well as nine primary close contacts of the nurse at Epping Private.

Mr Weimar said he met the chief executives from Epping Private and Northern Hospital on Wednesday night.

“I’m exceptionally concerned – we have very clear expectations and strong requirements of the designated COVID wards,” he said.

“One of those expectations is that staff are dedicated to that particular ward.

“That should not have been allowed to happen.

“This appears to be an operational error being made at Epping Private … it is disappointing, I’m very unhappy about that situation.”

He added another 25 staff had isolated after the nurse’s positive test and 22 of those had returned negative tests.

The nurse also visited the northern vaccination centre on June 14 for her final dose. As a result, 30 people there – five staff and 25 patients – are isolating for 14 days.

aged care virus
Aged-care patients from this home in Melbourne’s north-west were transferred to the hospital.

Tests are underway to determine how the nurse caught the virus, with Mr Weimar noting she had looked after three COVID-19 patients from the Arcare Maidstone aged-care facility at Epping Private.

She was among three new cases announced on Wednesday.

Victoria had no new local coronavirus infections on Thursday, ahead of a further easing of restrictions across Melbourne and the regions on Friday.

The Health Department on Thursday confirmed just one new COVID-19 case involving a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.

The total number of active cases in the state is now 54.

Some 25,635 Victorians were tested in the 24 hours to midnight on Wednesday while 15,610 received a COVID-19 vaccine dose at state-run hubs.

Under changes from Friday morning, Melburnians will be able to travel to regional Victoria with the removal of the 25-kilometre travel limit, host two adult visitors plus their dependents per day and gather outdoors in groups of 20.

Masks will remain mandatory indoors but will be required outdoors only if social distancing isn’t possible.

Businesses such as gyms and indoor entertainment venues will be able to reopen, while density limits at offices, cafes, restaurants and pubs will increase.

In regional Victoria, the home visit cap will increase to five adults plus their dependents per day, while up to 50 people can gather outdoors.

Acting Premier James Merlino said restrictions could ease further late next week if COVID infections remain low.

Chief health officer Brett Sutton has said there still might be undetected cases in the community and urged people to keep following virus rules.

“It’s really tough. This is 16 months into a pandemic. There is no question that people are over this,” he said.