COVID-19 hospitalizations in Victoria rise to 976 as state records 18 deaths


Victoria’s COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen to 976 as the state government prepares to use quarantine hotels to house the record number of infected patients.

Among the hospitalized patients, there are 112 in intensive care, including 30 on ventilators.

For months, the vast majority of people in intensive care have not been vaccinated.

Acting Health Secretary James Merlino today revealed figures showing a stark imbalance in morbidity among unvaccinated Victorians.

“Half the patients in intensive care come from 6% of the population, those who are not vaccinated,” Merlino said.

Mr Merlino also lambasted reports of people hosting “COVID parties” in a bid to catch the virus, and said the current numbers from the ICU were a strong warning.

“It’s just ridiculous. Doing something as risky as that is no protection against serious illness, it’s no protection against getting a variant again on the track” , did he declare.

“It’s just stupid, ignorant behavior. The stats I shared on the ICU should send a very, very clear message to anyone who thinks it’s a game.”

The government has pointed out that the number of critically ill patients is lower than previous waves, but the huge volume of Omicron cases is putting dangerous pressure on the healthcare system.

Government to reorganize quarantine hotels to accommodate COVID patients

Due to the spike in hospital presentations by COVID-19 patients, the government will revamp its hotel quarantine settings to accommodate patients.

Two Melbourne quarantine hotels, the Pullman in the CBD and the Mantra in Epping, will be converted into medi-hotels to manage the overflow of COVID patients into hospitals.

More than 300 COVID patients at the end of their hospital stay will be transferred to medi-hotels to complete their treatment.

“They will remain in hospital custody and will still be considered inpatients even though they are at the hotel,” Merlino said.

James Merlino says transitioning patients to medi-hotels will be crucial in easing pressure on emergency rooms.(ABC News)

CQV will maintain the management of medi-hotels, with hotel quarantine facilities for unvaccinated overseas arrivals to be kept separate from COVID treatment facilities.

Patients will begin to be transferred from next week and will be medically assessed by hospital staff to determine if they are healthy enough to be transferred.

Australian Medical Association vice-president Chris Moy said housing COVID-positive patients in hotels had several limitations.

“Really, the type of patient that can be cared for at the hotel is extremely low in terms of need and will need to be selected very carefully,” Dr Moy said.

“And then it will be a burden on the staff there to make sure everyone is okay.”

The government announced an injection of $1.3 billion in 2020 to provide 4,000 additional intensive care beds.

Premier Daniel Andrews previously said the beds would be rolled out if necessary to meet demand.

Opposition health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier blamed the Victorian government for what she described as an ongoing health crisis.

“This health care crisis didn’t just happen because of COVID, it took a decade to prepare,” she said.

“It’s because of Daniel Andrews’ under-investment, lack of planning and preparation.”

She said that had been particularly a problem over the past two years.

“This government has no plan, it’s so reactive,” she said.

“We see our hard-working health care workers who are again the ones under tremendous pressure.”

There are now at least 239,396 active cases in the state, a day after the government announced that Victorian teachers, lorry drivers and other essential workers could go to work, even if they are a family contact of a positive case.

The death toll from the current outbreak has risen to 835.

The state’s overwhelmed testing network is currently unable to give a true indication of the number of new cases in the community, but has recorded 34,836 new infections.

These cases were reported from 19,396 PCR results and 15,440 rapid home antigen tests (RATs).

Health authorities believe the spread of the virus has yet to plateau in Victoria.

“We’re likely to see the numbers continue to rise, I don’t have any guidance yet that we’ve peaked the wave of this Omicron variant,” Merlino said.

Victorians who are eligible for their third dose of the vaccine are urged to reserve it immediately in a bid to slow transmission of the Omicron variant.

About 21% of Victorian adults have received three doses of a vaccine so far.

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