'Rapid increase': Confronting images as Victoria braces for reopening

·3-min read

A leading epidemiologist has delivered a grim warning to Melburnians as the state prepares to emerge from lockdown amid skyrocketing Covid cases.

Melbourne University clinical epidemiologist Professor Nancy Baxter fears Victoria may never see a decline in the number of infections as “mingling and mixing” increases.

Clinical epidemiologist Nancy Baxter on ABC News Breakfast. Source: ABC
Clinical epidemiologist Nancy Baxter warned people in Melbourne to keep in mind the amount of Covid in the community as restrictions are eased. Source: ABC

The state recorded a slight drop on Tuesday with 1,749 new infections and 11 deaths. 

But daily Covid cases continue to linger around the 2000 mark ahead of Thursday night when restrictions will begin easing.

“With the new freedoms that are being given as of this weekend and just the chatter I am hearing about everybody having people over, I think we are going to see a pretty rapid increase in cases, but we will have to see how that goes,” she warned on ABC News Breakfast.

Melbourne cases numbers on par with whole of Spain

She admitted it “didn’t make sense” for the sixth long-running lockdown to continue because “people were not following the rules” but reminded residents to move forward with caution while making a chilling comparison.

“We all need to use our heads when getting out of lockdown, I think people deserve some freedoms, they should enjoy some new freedoms but they do need to think about how much Covid is out there.

"In Melbourne right now, we have as much COVID as they have in all of Spain.

“There are a lot of Covid out there so if people don’t feel comfortable doing all the things that their friends are inviting them to do, I think it is important for people to feel boring or afraid, they are kind of realistic.”

Spain is one of the European countries hit hardest by Covid-19 over the past 18 months with more than 87,000 people having lost their lives.

A photo of tents that have been set up at the entrance to the emergency departments in Melbourne to cope with rising Covid cases. Source: Twitter/IanMeducator
Tents have been set up at the entrance to the emergency departments in Melbourne to cope with rising Covid cases. Source: Twitter/IanMeducator

Health system already overwhelmed

Prof Baxter's warning comes after confronting images emerged showing tents outside a Melbourne hospital on Monday as the state broke a new record for daily Covid cases.

For the first time since last year’s outbreak, triage tents have been erected outside hospitals as the health system is overwhelmed with Covid patients.

Emergency physician Dr Ian Summers took to Twitter to share the series of photos along with a vaccination plea.

Another medical professional then shared the post in a bid to explain the harrowing reality of the situation.

“While Melbourne is taking out their picnic mats, remember that many major metropolitan hospitals are setting up tents for patient care. It’s a sign of the weeks to come,” Dr Eric Levi wrote.

“Do enjoy time with your family, but please wear a mask, keep a distance, get tested and get vaccinated ASAP!”

“We haven't and will never forget the stress and heartbreak our health-heroes are suffering every day because of the COVIDiots that brought us to this point,” one person responded.

A photo of tents that have been set up at the entrance to the emergency departments in Melbourne to cope with rising Covid cases. Source: Twitter/IanMeducator
There are fears the hospital system may become overwhelmed as Victorians race to get vaccinated.Source: Twitter/IanMeducator

It follows a spike in hospital admissions and the number of people being treated in intensive care.

Operations are being cancelled and delayed, as Covid patients continue to take up the majority of free beds.

Over the past fortnight, operators have been overwhelmed by a surge in triple-0 calls.

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