'I am frightened': Emergency doctor's plea as Victoria coronavirus cases soar

Tom Flanagan
·News Reporter
·3-min read

An emergency physician in Melbourne has made an emotional plea to the public after Victoria’s unprecedented 723 cases and 13 deaths on Thursday.

Dr Stephen Parnis, a former Australian Medical Association Vice President, detailed his and his colleagues’ response to the daunting daily totals being recorded in Victoria in a powerful tweet that has since resonated with hundreds online.

“Silence. Slumped shoulders. A few watery eyes. Back to work,” he tweeted, describing the response when it was confirmed there were more than 700 new cases in a 24-hour period.

Appearing on Channel Nine’s Today show on Friday morning, Dr Parnis said frontline medical workers in Melbourne are being pushed to their physical and mental limits as cases continue to rise.

Dr Stephen Parnis pictured wearing PPE in hospital. Source: Twitter/ Stephen Parnis
Dr Stephen Parnis wearing PPE in hospital. Source: Twitter/ Stephen Parnis

“I have never depended more on the people I work with more than now. Not just for medication or treatment orders or things like that, but for emotional support,” he said.

“We have to look after each other because some of us are getting unwell, some of us are coping with terrible stress.”

Dr Parnis said he knows several of the people who have died as a result of contracting the virus.

Victoria had recorded 57 deaths in the past week – surpassing NSW’s death toll from the entire pandemic.

“I think if this goes on for a long time, everyone will know people who have died,” Dr Parnis told Today.

“It's people who are not just frail and elderly. There are young people in intensive cares around Melbourne at the moment. Children are affected too.

“This can destroy lives and we are only beginning to scratch the surface of what the virus can do.”

Two of the eight deaths announced on Friday in Victoria were men in their 50s.

Urgent coronavirus isolation warning to Australians

Dr Parnis called on every single Victorian and Australian to do their part, ensuring they are isolating when they need to, and adhering to hygiene instructions while staying at home.

“We have to turn to the Australian people,” he said.

“There's only one thing, only one thing, that will get that number down, and that is adequate isolation.

“People getting tested for the mildest of symptoms and staying home until they get that result and making sure that there is minimal chance for this virus to be transmitted.

“Because without that, the risk is that these numbers will get worse and if the hospital system is overwhelmed, then I am frightened for what might happen.”

Premier Daniel Andrews has repeatedly stressed the importance of staying at home and isolating if symptoms develop.

Alarming statistics earlier this month revealed about 90 per cent of people with symptoms failed to isolate before they were tested, and more than 50 per cent didn’t while awaiting their results.

On Thursday, Mr Andrews said there were people still attending work while awaiting their test results, and a “small number” were even going to work after testing positive.

“And for so long as that continues, then we will continue to see numbers go up,” he warned.

Mr Andrews announced on Thursday face masks will be mandatory across the entire state of Victoria from midnight Sunday in a bid to curtail the spread of the virus.

Anyone residing in Greater Geelong, Surf Coast, Moorabool, Golden Plains, Colac-Otway and the Borough of Queenscliffe will not be allowed visitors in their homes as of Friday.

Hospitality venues including cafes, restaurants and pubs will remain open under current guidelines.

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