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Omicron: Australia On High Alert, Victoria Cancels Most Elective Surgeries

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The Omicron strain continues to spread rapidly, these changes will reduce the strain on hospitals by ensuring as many resources as possible are available across the system to manage both COVID-19 demand as well as other patients with emergency and urgent medical needs. In Victoria, all but urgent elective surgeries have been cancelled in Melbourne and major regional cities in a bid to free up hospitals treating the state’s unprecedented wave of COVID-19 infections.

In a statement released this afternoon, the state government said only emergency and urgent elective surgery procedures would be allowed to go ahead in private and public hospitals in those areas from tomorrow. The statement said the reduction in elective surgery would also help to ensure healthcare workers focused on managing the existing demand and preparing for future surges.

The changes will apply to all public health services in Melbourne as well as Barwon Health, Ballarat Health Services’ Grampians Health campus, Bendigo Health, Goulburn Valley Health and Latrobe Regional Hospital.

It will also extend to private and day procedure centres in Melbourne and private hospitals in Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Latrobe Valley and Shepparton.

People impacted by the changes should contact their GP if their condition deteriorates, so they can be prioritised.

No universal free access to rapid tests

There will be no universal free access to rapid tests in Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed.

Instead, a maximum of 10 tests will be provided to concession cardholders over three months.

“Universal free access to tests was not agreed by any of the states and territories today, or the Commonwealth. I make that very clear,” Mr Morrison said.

“Universal free access was not considered the right policy response by all of the states and territories in attendance today, and the Commonwealth.

“What was agreed, though, was providing, as I flagged two weeks ago, a model to provide concessional access for tests over a three-month period, and they will be made available through the pharmacy network.”

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