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Coronavirus update: Private hospitals enlisted for the COVID-19 battle

- March 31, 2020 2 MIN READ
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The government has struck a deal with the private health sector to open up beds during the coronavirus crisis. Health Minister Greg Hunt says commonwealth government and the state governments recognised more equipment and staff may be needed to cope with Covid-19 diagnoses.

Hunt said 657 private hospitals around the country and their staff will now be harnessed to be a part of the public health system. The government has also committed to underwrite private hospitals who may need assistance.

Hunt said the partnership will deliver additional capacity to the hospital system. A third of intensive care units are within the private hospital system and will now be made available.

“In terms of the capacity, it means over 34,000 beds and chairs that will be made available to the public hospital system.

This includes access to 105,000 full-time and part-time staff, including over 57,000 full-time and part-time nurses.

The minister also updated the nation on the spread of the virus saying growth rate is now at around nine per cent on average, down from 25-30 per cent a week ago.

Hunt said restrictions put in place to curb the stem of the crisis are working,

“but its early days”.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth said there are currently around 2200 ventilated intensive care beds in Australia Slightly more than 20 per cent of those are being used for COVID-19 patients.

The private sector assistance will increase the number of ventilator beds available to 4400.

Plans are in place to increase this number further with the government commissioning reserve units to ensure there will be enough ventilators for patients during the crisis.

To date there have been over 230,000 tests carried out across Australia. Minister Hunt said transmissions were still low, with a rate of three positive results in every 100. He said to give a better indication –  in the US positive diagnoses are one in two.

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