COVID patients from overstretched Melbourne hospitals will be transferred to Ballarat from next week.
Ballarat Base Hospital will become a "COVID streaming" hospital on Monday as part of a coordinated effort to ensure enough hospital beds are available across the state for COVID patient care in general wards and intensive care.
"This is a service that extends beyond the immediate Ballarat and Grampians environment taking in to account the goal that government has to increase the number of available public and private beds across Victoria to meet the growth in positive cases - a role we play not just for our community but ... for all Victorians," said Ballarat Health Service's chief Dale Fraser.
"In the event demand does come our way we have capacity to take on that care. We can expect we will see patients from outside Ballarat come to Ballarat as has been case that some of our positive patients have located to other streaming sites at Geelong, Bendigo and Melbourne as well."
BALLARAT'S VACCINATION SITES
- Gold - Moderna
- Blue - Pfizer
- Green - AstraZeneca
As part of preparations to take on COVID patients BHS has scaled back category three and non-urgent category two elective surgery, but Mr Fraser assured locals that emergency surgery, category one and urgent category two elective surgeries would continue.
He said people should not put off seeking medical help for fear of coming in to contact with COVID.
"There are arrangements through the emergency department to ensure clear separation of COVID and non-COVID patients. We encourage people not to defer care on the thought of potentially being in contact with COVID patients."
Grampians Public Health Unit director and BHS medical director Rosemary Aldrich said a further 10 new cases in Ballarat on Thursday and the record 1838 across the state were likely to increase.
The 10 cases were all linked and relate to two clusters.
"The rate of increase is slowing and it seems like a big number ... but if we had not been doing the work in Victoria we have done in lockdown this number on a daily basis would be many thousands by now," she said.
Dr Aldrich said as the state learned to live with COVID and restrictions eased the numbers would get higher and urged anyone not already vaccinated to do so.
"It is unlikely we are going to get to zero but we are certainly keen to make sure we have done as much as possible," she said.
"The best way to defend ourselves against COVID is through vaccination. The best way to protect our children not eligible for vaccination is for parents, friends, teachers, friends of parents to be vaccinated."
IN OTHER NEWS
As all year levels of children in Ballarat and other regional areas get back to the classroom at least two days a week from Monday, students from grade three and up will now be required to wear a mask indoors at school while for kids in prep to grade two it will be strongly recommended but not mandated.
"Kids are great. They adapt. They are resilient and we can easily show them the way about how to wear a mask. We all need to work together as a community to make that happen," said Royal Children's Hospital pediatrician Jane Munro.
"Primary school kids unlike teenagers, there is not a vaccine available for them yet, and also, if you note kids, they move around a lot in classrooms in primary school and they also tend to sneeze, to snot on each other and even to lick each other sometimes and that is gross but it is reality, so trying to stop aerosol spread is really important."
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