More than 600 hospital staff have reportedly been in isolation for days after potentially being exposed to coronavirus.
An outbreak among doctors and nurses at Frankston Hospital in Melbourne has led to 44 workers being infected with the deadly virus, Peninsula Health, which runs the facility, said in a statement to Yahoo News Australia.
Chief Executive Felicity Topp said 618 staff members have been furloughed in an effort to contract trace all of the active cases.
All patients needing surgery have been transferred to the The Alfred hospital or Monash Health services, according to The Age said.
Australian Medical Association Victorian president Julian Rait told the publication he believes more than 4,000 people work at Frankston.
"It's obviously extremely concerning," he told The Age.
"There are anxieties around the shortage of staff and the capacity of the hospital to provide its usual services."
The quarantined staff are expected to return to work next week at the earliest.
Peninsula Health, which runs the hospital, confirmed in a statement posted to Facebook on Wednesday afternoon that a number of wards at Frankston Hospital “have temporarily ceased admissions as a precautionary measure.”
The closed wards include the Acute Medical Surgical Unit (AMSU), a 28 bed acute ward medical ward called 5GN and the Surgical Short Stay Ward (SSSU).
“Cardiology, mental health, ICU, maternity and acute medical surgical wards continue to accept admissions,” Peninsula Health said.
“The safety and wellbeing of our staff, our patients and our community is our utmost priority, and we are continuing to do all we can to help stop any further spread of the virus.”
They are now contacting discharged patients who may have come into contact with someone with coronavirus.
“Asymptomatic testing of all Peninsula Health staff and inpatients continues across the service.”
The outbreak comes one day after it was revealed at least 69 per cent of Victoria’s healthcare staff with COVID in the second wave became infected in work settings.
The new data is at odds with Premier Daniel Andrews' suggestion on August 12 that the majority of healthcare workers were "acquiring coronavirus outside of the workplace".
Grim new death toll
Victoria on Wednesday suffered a sharp rise in coronavirus deaths with 24 new fatalities, taking the state toll to 462 and national figure to 549.
Australia's worst daily figure of 25 was recorded on August 17. Victoria registered 149 new cases of the virus on Wednesday.
Of Wednesday's deaths, 21 are related to aged care.
They include one woman in her 60s, three men in their 70s, three males and seven males in their 80, six females and four males in their 90s.
Otherwise key virus statistics continue to fall, with the third-straight day of new cases under 200.
The figures come as the state government weathers a political storm over its bid to extend Victoria's state of emergency for 12 months.
It is negotiating with cross-benchers and needs the backing of four of them for new legislation to pass that would extend the emergency powers.
The pandemic sparked a state of emergency on March 16, which is due to expire on September 13 after a maximum six extensions.
State Premier Daniel Andrews said any ongoing rules would be applied with "the lightest touch possible, only what's necessary and only for so long as it is necessary".
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