Screening site at Northern Health

Two men aged in their 70s are the first in Victoria to die from COVID-19.

By Evelyn Leckie

NORTHERN Health in Epping is one of seven hospitals that have set up screening clinics in response to the coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced the screening clinics last week as part of the COVID-19 Pandemic Plan for the Victorian Health Sector.

The plan outlines actions the state is taking to slow the spread of the virus in the community and manage demand on hospital resources.

Royal Melbourne Hospital, Alfred Hospital, Austin Hospital, Box Hill Hospital, Monash Clayton and Sunshine Hospital also opened screening clinics last week.

“Coronavirus will impact the entire Victorian community from business and schools – and that’s why a whole-of-government response is needed as we ramp up our response to this emerging pandemic,” Mr Andrews said.

On Friday, Northern Health chief operating officer Jane Poxon said the hospital had seen no cases of COVID-19.

“Our primary aim is to keep our patients, staff and our community safe,” Ms Poxon said.

“As part of our preparedness, we have established a fever clinic at Northern Hospital Epping to help screen people with upper respiratory symptoms, however, we encourage you not to attend unless absolutely necessary.”

As of yesterday, 14 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Victoria, bringing the state’s number of cases to 71.

The Federal Government announced last week that up to 100 ‘pop-up’ fever clinics would be established across the country, in a program costing $205 million.

Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell welcomed the program but asked the Federal Government for immediate support to promptly set up some of the clinics in the McEwen electorate.

“Currently the local health services in densely populated areas including Mernda, Sunbury, Wallan and Macedon are under tremendous strain and struggling to meet the demands of the community on their own,” Mr Mitchell said.

“The intense volume of those seeking assistance compounds the existing stress of workers and all involved in the provision of vital healthcare services at such a critical time.”

Mr Mitchell said he was concerned the pop-up clinic announcement lacked detail regarding the clinic locations in addition to the six-week lead-time for the clinics to be operational.

“There are already hundreds of patients waiting for hours to be tested at existing GP clinics and hospitals,” he said.

Advice on the virus is always changing – for the latest updates visit www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

People who suspect they might have the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) call the dedicated hotline 1800 675 398.