12 Jul 2020

Covid-19: Victoria records more than 270 cases and another death

8:48 pm on 12 July 2020

Victoria's Chief Health Officer has expressed concern about hospital workers who are among the state's rising Covid-19 numbers calling them the "last line of defence".

Health workers take part in ICU training for Covid-19 at Hutt Hospital.

A number of healthcare workers across many of Melbourne's busiest hospitals have contracted the virus in recent days, and concerns have been raised about personal protective equipment (file picture). Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

His comments came as residents of public housing towers which were not part of last week's "hard lockdown" were reported as some of the 273 new coronavirus cases recorded in Victoria.

Premier Daniel Andrews said a man in his 70s died overnight, taking the national coronavirus death toll to 108.

There are now 57 Victorians with coronavirus in hospital, including 16 people in intensive care.

Eight healthcare workers at The Alfred Hospital have now tested positive to Covid-19, in what is the second outbreak at the hospital since the pandemic began.

The Alfred Hospital, Commercial Road, Melbourne.

The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. Photo: / Cuddy Wifter / Public Domain

The hospital said five staff were believed to have acquired the virus in the community, while three cases were detected through contact tracing.

Currently no patients have contracted the virus within the hospital.

The infectious diseases ward now has a concierge at the entrance to log staff and the hospital has doubled its cleaning resources.

In March, three cancer patients died after contracting Covid-19 at The Alfred, while another two patients and 10 staff were also infected.

A number of healthcare workers across many of Melbourne's busiest hospitals have contracted the virus in recent days, and concerns have been raised about personal protective equipment (PPE).

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said there were two infections linked to Box Hill Hospital. The number of cases connected to the Brunswick Private Hospital, which closed its doors to new admissions on Thursday, is now at 11.

Premier Daniel Andrews said authorities needed "every Victorian to acknowledge that you are on the front line".

"Don't leave it to nurses and doctors to be the last line of defence," he said.

"You are on the front line with me and my family and every family, and we all need to make smart choices for ourselves and each other."

Sutton said "it's a concern" to see numbers rising in hospitals across Melbourne.

"As the last line of defence, we know that they are a critical workforce," Sutton said.

He said workers have PPE available to them and "know what to do", but "it is a risk that can't be mitigated down to zero".

The past week has also seen a rise in cases linked to patients and staff from aged care facilities.

Sutton said some new cases were linked to Menarock Life Aged Care in Essendon and Glendale Aged Care in Werribee.

Australia's 107th coronavirus death, great-grandfather Alf Jordan, was a resident at the Glendale home.

A total of 207 staff and 277 residents were tested this week, Glendale Aged Care director of operations Glenn Hannock said.

Public housing residents in Carlton test positive

There are now 237 positive test results among residents of the nine public housing towers in Flemington and Kensington which were locked down last Saturday.

One of the nine towers, 33 Alfred St in North Melbourne, remains under the "hard lockdown" due to fears as much as 25 percent of residents could contract the virus.

The remaining eight towers are now under the same stage three stay-at-home orders as the rest of metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire.

There are now 28 infections linked to public housing towers in Carlton, which were not placed under the strict restrictions on Saturday.

"These are challenging settings for the structural issues that are at play there and the fact that they are in hotspot areas in terms of transmission," Sutton said.

Residents of the 33 Alfred Street building are not under the same stage three restrictions as the rest of Melbourne, and are instead only allowed to leave their homes for medical or compassionate reasons or exercise.

Temporary fencing was set up around the tower on Saturday night, which was later removed after community and legal intervention.

"We understand that as soon as residents saw those, they became quite upset," Inner Melbourne Community Legal chief executive Damian Stock said.

"Thankfully the fences were taken down pretty quickly, but it should never have happened. The fences shouldn't have gone up in the first place."

Stock said there were concerns many of the residents had not been outside since the lockdown came into effect last Saturday.

In a statement, a DHHS spokesperson said the agency was working to make sure residents of the tower got fresh air and exercise, and it would be providing tenants with gloves and masks.

"The health and safety of public housing tenants has always been our priority and we'll continue to implement everything we can to keep tenants safe and ensure they have the support they need to slow the spread of coronavirus," the spokesperson said.

"A range of communication channels have been employed to connect with residents, including online, phone, face-to-face and engagement of community leaders and local networks."


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