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Malinauskas eyes private hospital beds as COVID cases spike


South Australia has recorded its highest COVID-19 hospitalisation rate since mid-February, prompting the government to consider taking over private hospital beds to ease pressure on the public system.

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The number of COVID-positive patients in hospital jumped from 188 on Sunday, to 209 on Monday, including eight people in intensive care.

All up the state recorded 4595 new cases, but Premier Peter Malinauskas told reporters yesterday that the hospitalisation rate remained the metric of concern.

“We’re currently working within (hospital) capacity, but this is a push and this is a challenge and when we see hospitalisation numbers kick up by approximately 20 or thereabouts, that is another impact on the system,” he said.

“We do anticipate there’ll be another EMC (Emergency Management Council) meeting within this week and naturally if there’s more modelling to be assessed, more information to consider then we will do that.

“We’ll also rationalise that against the effort to increase hospital capacity, which remains an ongoing piece of work.”

The Malinauskas Government last week announced 24 extra intensive care beds at the Royal Adelaide Hospital would be readied for use ahead of an expected surge in COVID-19 cases.

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All up, the government plans to stand up 200 extra hospital beds in the short term to deal with a peak of up to 8000 cases a day later this month.

It has asked SA Health to report on how many beds are still needed to deal with the expected surge, following warnings the hospital system is already under “substantial strain”.

On Monday, Malinauskas said the government was now “actively pursuing” private hospital beds to deal with overflow from the public system.

“We are undertaking work with the private sector to see if additional beds we can get access to, to look after COVID-positive patients,” he said.

“At the moment there have been approximately 20 beds that have been identified within the private system that are being actively pursued.”

The premier said it was still a “live possibility” that South Australia would reach over 8000 cases each day, based on modelling undertaken by the University of Adelaide and released last month.

“The fact that we’re currently under that is a good thing, but remembering that the peak wasn’t anticipated to be reached until a few weeks’ time anyway,” he said.

“This is still an exercise of watching and acting accordingly if the variables change.”

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