Understaffing concern escalates in Australian hospitals as Covid outbreak accelerates

Covid outbreak has been accelerating in Australia’s most populous states, escalating understaffing issues in the hospital system.

On Monday, nurses in two major hospitals in Sydney walked off the job to highlight their low staffing levels, as emergency departments were overcrowded by Covid patients and non-Covid patients over long periods, which has caused “chronic understaffing”.

The state of New South Wales (NSW) recorded 9,761 new Covid cases and five deaths in the 24 hours to 4:00 p.m. Sunday. There were 2,169 people in hospital with the virus with 64 in intensive care, Xinhua news agency reported.

A spokesman for NSW Health told local media that there were 2,719 health workers in isolation across the state. During the peak of the outbreak in January, more than 6,000 staff were forced to isolate on a single day.

The state of Victoria is also battling rising Covid hospitalisations with hospital staff shortages. The Victorian government is urgently hiring about 400 additional specialist staff at 12 major hospitals.

The additional staff will be responsible for assessing patients and discharge coordinators to focus on the timely transition of care from the ward to home or another health facility.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the plan will help lower the pressure in emergency departments and will ensure Victorians get the care they need faster, though recruiting the staff will not be easy and could take a couple of months.

“Since June 22, Victoria has experienced a 99-percent rise in people in hospital with Covid, a 60-per cent increase in Covid-related ICU admissions and a 47 per cent spike in workforce furloughs,” said a statement from the Victorian government last Sunday.

Meanwhile, another Covid-hit cruise ship was reported in the country, the second such vessel in less than a week. It was docked in Sydney on Monday morning and will head to Moreton Island in the state of Queensland.

The Pacific Explorer, which has about 2,800 crew and passengers on board, carried more than 100 Covid-positive people. Infected passengers will be transported to their homes or hotel accommodations for isolation, but the NSW health department said there would be no supervision for the isolation, according to the Daily Telegraph.

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