Four health care workers at a Catholic hospital emergency department in Melbourne’s west have tested positive for COVID-19. Source: 9News.
By Chanel Zagon, 9News
Werribee Mercy Hospital confirmed yesterday a worker in its emergency department returned a positive test on Sunday. Three other staff members were later diagnosed with the virus after at-risk employees underwent testing.
Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told reporters outside State Parliament the health care workers were all in a stable condition at home.
Premier Daniel Andrews said “a number” were in self-isolation, acknowledging the risk of infection was a “reality” for frontline workers.
A Mercy Health spokeswoman said the hospital’s emergency department had been sanitised to prevent further risk to patients and staff.
“Our primary focus is on the health of our patients and staff working on the frontline. Since the notifications, we have been working with the Department of Health and Human Services to identify any patients and staff considered at risk of infection,” the spokeswoman said.
“Anyone considered to be at risk will be contacted for testing and advised to self-isolate.”
The emergency department remains open to the public.
Meanwhile, the president of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine said he was “deeply concerned” about that the four emergency medical staff had been infected, The Age reports.
Dr John Bonning stressed all frontline health care workers must be given adequate personal protective equipment, known as PPE, including long-sleeved gowns, masks, face shields or goggles and disposable gloves.
The peak of the coronavirus pandemic is expected to hit in May or June, but there have already been numerous reports of PPE shortages across the country, with doctors and nurses at one Australian hospital told to reuse some gear to protect dwindling stocks.
Earlier this week, Catholic Health Australia chief executive Pat Garcia warned state, territory and federal health ministers of the imminent shortfall of PPE in Catholic hospitals.
“We cannot have a situation where thousands of doctors and nurses are treating people unprotected – it’s a shocking situation for patients, staff and the wider community,” Mr Garcia said.