Southern Australia Has 37 People Hospitalized With the C Flu so Naturally Virtually All Elective Procedures Are Suspended
How can the health system for 1.8 million people possibly cope with 37 flu patients?
Health and aged care workers who are close or casual contacts of COVID-19 cases will be allowed to continue working in South Australia as growing case numbers, hospitalisations and long waits for testing build pressure on the health system.
After setting a daily record of 1,471 new cases today, SA now has 37 COVID patients in hospital, with four in intensive care.
More than 6,100 people are in some form of quarantine — a significant increase from the 4,853 reported yesterday.
With case numbers growing, the state’s Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said it was no longer practical to require casual and close COVID contacts to isolate until they receive test results, or serve mandatory quarantine.
“To be perfectly frank, you could just about say everybody in South Australia fairly soon is going to be considered a casual contact,” Professor Spurrier told FiveAA.
Professor Spurrier said daily rapid antigen testing and use of “very high level” personal protective equipment would minimise any transmission to patients.
Guidelines distributed to health staff showed that those considered to be ‘casual’ or ‘close’ contacts of a COVID patient would be still be required to undergo PCR tests on days 1, 3, 6 and 13 of exposure.
However unlike members of the general community, they will be allowed to continue working while waiting for their PCR results, so long as they undertake daily rapid antigen testing, wear D95 or N95 respirator masks and eye protection.
The escalating COVID pressures on Wednesday prompted Premier Steven Marshall to announce that elective surgeries in all bar the most urgent categories would be postponed.
There are almost 19,000 elective surgeries on the SA waiting list, with more than 2,000 of those considered overdue.
Students drive ambulances
The latest developments came as the SA Ambulance Service bolstered its staff with student drivers, after police were forced to ferry patients to hospital earlier this week. [“South Australia’s health system is currently so focused on COVID-19 cases that police officers have been forced to act as paramedics by ferrying patients with head and other injuries to hospital, the ambulance union has said.”]
Under a plan announced in November, but which took effect this week, final year paramedic students are being used to supplement the existing workforce.
An ambulance service spokesperson confirmed the students had this week “begun providing support to our existing patient transport officers with driving non-urgent patients.”
The ambulance service declared an “OpStat White” on Wednesday, indicating a very high level of demand.
“Certainly, our crews have had a busy few days as more South Australians move about the state and celebrate the festive season,” the spokesperson said.
“SAAS strives to ensure ambulance resources are right where they are needed, when they are needed.”
Plea for quiet NYE
With South Australia’s COVID outbreak moving far quicker than authorities anticipated, Professor Spurrier also pleaded for this year’s New Year’s Eve celebration “to be the absolutely quietest New Year’s Eve everybody has ever had”.
“You can still make a bit of noise by yourself, I can fully intend to do that on my own verandah,” she said.
“You can link up with people on Zoom, or teams meeting but we really do not want to have lots of people getting together during that New Year’s Eve period because again, it will trigger a whole lot of those super spreading events.”
The Adelaide City Council had announced a changed program for its celebrations, that included a ticketed event at Rymill Park.
A spokesperson said that event would go ahead, attracting 5,000 people within a density that was within SA Health approved limits.
The council said it would continue to consult with SA Health about its plans.
Source: ABC Radio Adelaide