Elective surgery has been put on hold in regional Victoria to make space for coronavirus patients as the state records 725 new cases and 15 deaths.
The non-urgent elective surgery has already been suspended in Melbourne but will now be cancelled in all of Victoria.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Wednesday announced that there are 538 people in hospital with 42 people in intensive care.
The growing number of cases has forced the premier to put elective surgery on hold to give hospitals space to care for people suffering with the deadly virus.
‘Elective surgery other than for category one patients and the most urgent of category two patients… all surgery beyond category one and the most urgent category two in regional Victoria will be put on hold until further notice,’ Mr Andrews told reporters.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Wednesday said there are 538 people in hospital with 42 people in intensive care
Victoria recorded 725 cases on Wednesday, the state’s highest total since the pandemic began
‘We can’t have a situation where we are making the sickest patients wait longer because we are treating wholly worthy and important conditions, but not necessarily time-critical conditions.’
Mr Andrews said the sickest patients are of the top priority to be treated the quickest, which is a principle the ‘public and private hospitals work under’.
‘This is a regrettable decision but it is a very important one in order to preserve sufficient capacity in our entire health system,’ he said.
‘I don’t enjoy having to make these decisions but in terms of keeping patients safe and hospital workers safe and preserving sufficient capacity so that we’re planning for what might be needed.’
Wednesday’s figures are worse than the previous record of 723 new cases and 13 deaths on July 30.
A man in his 30s has become Australia’s youngest person to die from the disease.
The other people who died were three men and one woman in their 70s, three men, three women in their 80s and three men, and one woman in their 90s.
Twelve of the 15 deaths happened in aged care homes which are under severe strain.
A woman wearing a face mask is pictured crossing the road as a large group of police patrol the streets in Melbourne on Tuesday
Melburnians will now be made to carry a work permit signed by their employer (pictured police officers patrol running track in Melbourne on Tuesday)
Melbourne has been in stage-four lockdown since Sunday with schools shut, weddings banned, and citizens restricted to within a 5km radius of their homes.
Between 8pm and 5am, residents are only allowed to leave their house for work and essential health, care or safety reasons.
Thousands of businesses including pubs and shops have been ordered to close from 11.59pm on Wednesday, putting 250,000 people out of work.
At the same time, stage three restrictions that allow people to only leave home for work, exercise, care and essential shopping will be introduced across Victoria.
On Tuesday night, Premier Daniel Andrews tweeted photos showing the city’s normally bustling streets empty, and thanked Victorians for sticking to the rules.
The premier shared seven photos across two posts – including those showing the Tullamarine Freeway and the M80 Ring Road.
Both are normally filled with traffic and act as major arteries going in and around central Melbourne.
In the caption, Mr Andrews wrote simply: ‘Thank you.’
In the caption to the tweet separated into two posts, Mr Andrews wrote simply: ‘Thank you’
Victoria is set to report 725 new cases of coronavirus. Pictured: A cyclist in Albert Park, Melbourne on Wednesday
It comes as federal Education Minister Dan Tehan unveils a rescue package for childcare in the state.
Parents will be given an extra 30 days of allowable absences so they can keep their children enrolled even if they cannot send them to care.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the initiative would secure childcare spots, while ensuring no centres closed or jobs were lost.
‘We are providing a triple guarantee for childcare in Victoria, supporting thousands of Victorian parents and hundreds of jobs,’ the Prime Minister said.
‘Parents will not be required to pay a gap fee when their children are not attending and we will continue to pay their subsidies to childcare facilities.’
Mr Morrison said there had been unacceptable outcomes in the most severely affected care homes.
‘There’s over 430 aged care facilities in Melbourne and what we’ve had is some horrible outcomes in a couple,’ he said.
‘There’s been about half a dozen that have been in an acute sense but the balance, even those with COVID cases, have been managing very well.’
Victorians who have used up all their sick leave can get $1,500 from the federal government if they have to self-isolate for two weeks.
The pandemic leave will also be on offer in other states that declare a state of emergency.