The Victorian government will inject $1.3 billion into its health system in preparation for the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.
The funds will secure an extra 4000 ICU beds, as well as the equipment, staff, and space needed to deal with the escalating coronavirus pandemic, Premier Daniel Andrews and Health minister Jenny Mikakos said on Wednesday.
“None of us want to see the scenes from Milan, New York and other parts of the world happening here in Victoria,” they said.
“Although we are acting quickly to slow the spread of coronavirus, the government is ordering enough equipment to ensure we have supplies for the worst case scenario.”
The government is ordering $1.2b worth of equipment and consumables, and is investing more than $65 million for capital works and workforce training.
The state’s public and private health services currently only have about 450 fully equipped and staffed ICU beds.
More personal protective equipment will be purchased, including 551 million gloves, 100 million masks and 14.5 million gowns.
Andrews said the extra funding should not stop Victorians from playing their part in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
“We are preparing for the worst — but if Victorians stay at home and protect the health system, won’t need all of this extra capacity, and we’ll save lives,” he said.
The state government recently reached an in-principle agreement with Victoria’s major private hospital operators, so that they can continue to care for the public during the pandemic and to ensure the health system is operating at full capacity.
Over the weekend, Andrews revealed the Department of Health and Human Services had redeployed nurses from the Epworth and Cabrini private hospitals in Melbourne to trace the contacts of people diagnosed with COVID-19.
The state government says it has so far invested $537m in the health system in response to COVID-19.
Victoria currently has 968 confirmed cases of coronavirus.