Australia

Private hospital staff in NSW redeployed to help respond to COVID-19 caseload

Dozens of private hospitals will suspend non-urgent elective surgery across the state from next Monday so their staff can help fight COVID-19, NSW Health announced on Wednesday afternoon.

Health care workers will be redeployed to assist in vaccination and support workforce demands in the struggling public health system.

Emergency and urgent surgery will continue.

The hospitals include many in Greater Sydney, as well as a handful in the regions.

Some 633 people tested positive for the virus in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday. That represents a 40 per cent rise on the previous day’s COVID-19 case tally of 452.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Wednesday warned the state had not yet seen the worst of the outbreak.

“I can’t express enough my level of concern at these rising numbers of cases,” said Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant.

Ms Berejiklian and Dr Chant emphasised that each person who has the virus is passing it on to on average 1.3 others, which would mean numbers will continue to escalate.

Southwest and western Sydney remain the highest for transmissions with 440 of the recent cases occurring in those areas.

From Thursday, those aged 16 to 39 living in the 12 local government areas of concern will be given priority access to 530,000 Pfizer doses provided by the federal government.

NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Tim Reardon told a parliamentary inquiry on Wednesday that “every (vaccine) dose we get right now is going into an arm, without a doubt”.

“We want to be awash in supply… but actually having a very strong demand was not a given three months ago because there was so much chatter about hesitancy,” he said.

NSW registers a record 633 new local COVID-19 cases

Mr Reardon also said the NSW government had taken legal advice on requiring COVID-19 vaccination for some public sector workers, however he did not disclose the advice received or its source.

There are now 462 COVID patients in hospital, with 77 in intensive care and 25 on ventilators.

Despite the rising case numbers, the premier on Wednesday rejected suggestions harsher restrictions were needed.

“In one day alone, more than 400 people police know of across the state … left their house for the wrong reason,” she said.

“You can have the strictest rules in place … Delta leaves no room for anybody doing the wrong thing.”

NSW police issued 736 penalty notices in one day after ramping up operations with the support of 800 Australian Defence Force members.

Twenty-three of the new cases are in western NSW, including 17 in Dubbo.

A month after NSW opened up a series of grants for businesses, Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello apologised for significant delays.

He said Service NSW had received 260,000 grant applications and about 200,000 had so far been paid or approved.

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