Shepparton News

Dire forecast for Victoria


- By Darren Linton

Victoria’s health system will come under increasing pressure over the next month as COVID-19 cases soar.

Victoria recorded 950 new cases yesterday, and Health Minister Martin Foley acknowledg­ed the health system was already under strain, with ambulances ramping outside hospitals and frontline workers stretched by the added demand of COVID-19 cases.

“The next month will be hugely challengin­g,” Mr Foley said, although he added that the system was up to the task.

Victoria now has close to 10,000 active cases. Of those, 371 COVID-19 patients are in hospital, with 81 of those in intensive care units and 55 requiring ventilatio­n.

Acting Chief Health Officer Ben Cowie said while the modelling suggested case numbers would continue to climb beyond 1000 a day, there was still a chance to change that trajectory.

“It is absolutely within our power to slow the spread and prevent thousands of cases and hundreds of people getting seriously ill and some people dying by following the health precaution­s and getting vaccinated,” he said.

“Vaccinatio­ns remain our best weapon to fight back against this deadly virus.”

To underline the point, Prof Cowie said of the 15,238 cases in Victoria since July 12, 79 per cent were eligible for vaccines at the time of contractin­g COVID-19 yet 88 per cent were unvaccinat­ed.

Over the same period, 86 per cent of people hospitalis­ed with COVID-19 were unvaccinat­ed, as were 98 per cent of those patients admitted to intensive care. Mr Foley said an announceme­nt on shortening the gap between doses for the Pfizer vaccine to

three weeks once supply for October was confirmed would be made later this week.

“The most recent advice that we have is that we should have that by Friday. If we get it earlier then we will announce it earlier,” he said. COVID-19 Response Deputy Secretary Kate Matson said contact tracing had had to evolve to cope with the higher case load.

“We need to focus on the actions of highest value to ensure that people who are positive know that quickly,

and connect them to the support they need,” she said. Contact by text message is being introduced with a follow-up phone call where needed based on the responses from the positive case.

“The text message will ask a number of questions to help contact tracers prioritise higher-risk cases, including whether the person is looking after people at home, if they need support and if they are vaccinated,” Ms Matson said.

 ?? ?? Tough times: Health Minister Martin Foley says the next month will be hugely challengin­g for Victoria.
Tough times: Health Minister Martin Foley says the next month will be hugely challengin­g for Victoria.

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