Code Brown called for Victorian hospitals under pressure from COVID-19

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A state-wide Code Brown has been called for the Victorian hospital system after record-high hospital COVID-19 admissions and wide-scale furloughing of staff.

The measure, typically reserved for shorter-term emergencies like a train crash or bushfire, is aimed at relieving pressure on the hospital system and will apply to all metropolitan hospitals and six regional hospitals.

Hospitals can cancel the leave of healthcare workers to plug massive shortages due to workers getting infected or isolating under the measure starting at noon on Wednesday will last for four to six weeks.

The Code Brown is also aimed to send a message to the community that people should avoid going to hospital if they can manage their care at home or with their GP.

Private hospitals will have the option of calling the Code Brown too.

Hospitals will defer less urgent services and more hospitals will become streaming hospitals equipped to take on COVID patients under the new declaration.

The decision has been discussed with hospitals, who are understood to have supported the measure.

On Tuesday, there are 4067 healthcare workers who are being furloughed.

The announcement came on a day when Australia’s COVID-19 death tally spiked, with 22 deaths in Victoria and 36 in NSW.

The official number of daily cases reported in Victoria on Tuesday was 20,180, almost 60 per cent of them coming from positive self-reported rapid antigen tests.

In NSW 29,830 positive cases were reported. Just over half of them were from PCR tests.

The death toll in that state was the highest recorded in the pandemic, prompting NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet to describe Tuesday as a “very difficult day”.

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