Hospital stress inevitable with reopening

Pressure on hospital systems is inevitable as states relax coronavirus restrictions, but an infectious diseases physician is hopeful a worse-case scenario can be avoided.

© Darren England/AAP PHOTOS Businesses say getting vaccinated is critical to the economy and the wellbeing of all Australians.

Victoria has joined NSW in revealing the southern state’s plan to lift lockdown from October 26 in line with rising vaccination rates on the basis of Burnet Institute modelling.

The institute’s deputy director Margaret Hellard expects the reopening in both states to put intense pressure on hospitals in coming months.

“We see this around the world. COVID puts pressure on systems. And it’s just the reality of it,” she told ABC TV on Monday.

“We just have to understand that we’ve got about six-to-eight weeks where we can do little things that will add up to big things.”

A critical factor will be how the reproduction rate of the virus, effectively how many others a person will infect, changes.

But Professor Hellard stresses people’s choices – avoiding others’ homes, meeting outside and getting vaccinated – can help avoid a worst-case scenario for hospital numbers and deaths.

“My hope is that we will have some things that change the projections so that the model is a bit more optimistic, the outcome is actually a bit more optimistic,” she said of the situation in Victoria.


Video: Dr McAnulty: Too ‘early to know’ whether NSW COVID reproduction rate has dropped (Sky News Australia)

“It’s really important that people just don’t think that is set-and-forget. We can do things that will help take pressure off our health system, individually and collectively, to make things easier.”

Victoria recorded 567 new cases and another death on Monday. 

Daily cases are forecast to peak between 1400 and 2900 by late October based on current numbers. 

Between 1200 and 2500 patients are expected to require hospitalisation under the scenario. 

Should there be a second peak in December, hospital numbers could surpass 2500.

NSW reported 1083 new local cases and 13 additional deaths on Sunday, with 1238 people in hospital. 

Authorities expect the worst to come in October as that state progressively eases restrictions in line with 70 and 80 per cent vaccination thresholds, at a faster pace than Victoria.

Nationally, 46.67 per cent of people aged 16 and older are double-dosed. 

The figure is 52.65 per cent in NSW and 43.85 per cent in Victoria.

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