Hospital COVID emergency declared

January 18, 2022 BY

Challenging: Bendigo Hospital has been ordered to defer some services and recall staff under a statewide code brown order. Photo: FILE

VICTORIA has declared a code brown emergency for all Melbourne hospitals and six regional hospitals as the system buckles under COVID-19 admissions and staff shortages.

A code brown is declared when additional capability and capacity needs to be mobilised to receive an influx of patients due to an external emergency.

The order will mean some hospital staff may be recalled from leave and more emergency services will be deferred.

The cancellation of leave will be negotiated between the hospital and staff.

It will come into effect from midday on Wednesday and apply to all metro hospitals and six in the regions including Barwon, Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton,  Albury and Latrobe.

The code brown declaration is expected to last from four to six weeks and will ease pressure on the system ahead of the expected peak of hospital cases.

There are currently about 5000 health staff unavailable across the state after they tested positive for COVID-19 or were identified as close contacts.

It comes as Victoria recorded 20,180 COVID-19 cases, 22 deaths and 1152 patients in hospital.

The new infections confirmed by the health department on Tuesday include 11,747 from rapid antigen tests and 8433 from PCR tests.

It is the second consecutive day case numbers have declined in the state.

It brings the total number of active cases in the state to 235,035 – a fall of about 10,000 cases since Monday.

Tuesday’s patient numbers are a decrease of 77 on the previous day.

The number of people in ICU has decreased by two to 127, though 43 people are now on ventilation, an increase of five.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton on Monday said hospitalisation numbers were yet to peak, as he predicted that may not be reached for a month.

He said there was a lag of about two weeks between case numbers and hospital admissions, and three weeks for that to translate to ICU figures.