South West Healthcare says all patients booked for surgery must undergo COVID-19 test

Warrnambool Base Hospital. Picture: Mark Witte
Warrnambool Base Hospital. Picture: Mark Witte

Victoria's South West Healthcare said all patients booked for surgery, other than emergency surgery, will be required to have tested negative to coronavirus beforehand.

Chief executive Craig Fraser said following their testing they'll be required to self-isolate until their surgery takes place.

"This self-isolation will, generally, be for no longer than five days," he said.

The elective surgery clinic will contact all future surgery patients to explain this process, which involves Dorevitch Pathology, located in the Warrnambool Base Hospital, running a surgery-specific asymptomatic screening clinic from 1.30pm to 3.30pm weekdays.

"No appointment is required but patients must bring with them a referral from their surgeon," Mr Fraser said.

He said in future months the hospital will increase access to theatres but timelines will be fully dependent on state and regional COVID-19 numbers.

"In line with the rest of the state, non-urgent elective surgery other than category one and urgent category two has been reduced to ensure limited resources are available to respond to potential increasing COVID-positive demand.

"This includes preserving our limited amount of PPE and frees up some nursing, cleaning, medical and other staff to focus on providing COVID-specific resources to both SWH and across our region.

"This proactive preparation for possible COVID presentations and hospitalisations also frees up some hospital beds. By reducing elective surgeries, beds become available because they're not needed for a post-surgery patient's recovery phase."

This week SWH's Rapid Assessment Community Evaluation (RACE) team has been entering the homes of the region's COVID-positive patients to provide the care and support their recoveries.

Mr Fraser said the work sees them travelling to oversee patients throughout 12,500 square-kilometres of rural communities, with focus on Portland and Colac.

Over the past week from August 7 SWH has screened another 319 people for coronavirus, taking total screenings to 8270.

Premier 'won't rule out' further restrictions as 372 cases, 14 deaths recorded

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. Picture: Darrian Traynor

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. Picture: Darrian Traynor

Daniel Andrews said he "won't rule out" stage four restrictions for regional hotspots like Geelong, Ballarat and Bendio as the state recorded 372 new cases and 14 deaths on Friday.

One of the deaths was a male in his 20s, and 12 are linked to aged care.

During a meeting with regional media on Friday morning, the premier said numbers in the three hotspots were concerning, but "quite low".

"We wouldn't rule out doing more testing in more regional areas if we need, and we certainly can't rule out further restrictions," he said.

"The numbers are low and we want to keep them that way, but that's not a matter for today, it's a matter for monitoring numbers and the outcomes of that testing push.

"We don't want it to get into aged care in the regions like it has in Melbourne, we don't want to see large numbers of people gravely ill and in hospital.

"We know and understand how much pain and loss is associated with those changes."

There are 492 active cases in regional Victoria, down from 512 yesterday.

Friday saw 51 more mystery cases with an unknown source.

There are 1188 healthcare workers that are active cases, and 7482 active cases across the state.

Mr Andrews also said he wouldn't rule out hardening the border between regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne.

"I wouldn't rule out further steps to curtail movement between regional and metropolitan Melbourne, that movement needs to be at a minimum," he said.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said 20 per cent of cases, or one in five, were mystery cases.

He also said unknown source cases are highest among those in the 20-29 age bracket.

"We can't determine absolutely where they've got it from," he said.

"I'm confident we've seen the peak of cases."

"There's a lot of global evidence that's mounting that this is not like a cold or the flu every winter, this presents in some more like a chronic condition. It lingers in its effects."

Premier Daniel Andrews

The Standard put questions to the Premier about the Warrnambool man who tested twice to COVID-19 and told that he could go back to work in 48 hours if he didn't have symptoms.

Mr Andrews said his office would get back with a response.

"What the chief health officer tells me is there can be dead virus that can still trigger positive test but your infectivity is very very low," he said.

"This virus travels silently and quickly, so even if you live in a community with low or no cases, that's of what we know of.

"We must act like there are more cases out there that we don't know about."

This story Region to test all surgical patients for COVID-19 first appeared on The Standard.