SA races to find beds amid COVID spike

·2-min read

South Australia is scrambling to free up more hospital beds as the number of people admitted with COVID-19 hits record levels.

SA Health says it has worked to rapidly increase capacity as it braces for an increasing number of virus admissions over the coming weeks.

On Friday it said 358 people were in hospital with the virus, the most since the start of the pandemic.

While recent modelling suggested that number could soon push beyond 400.

"We know that the numbers are going to increase. So things are tight," Acute Response COVID Commander Lesley Dwyer told reporters.

"But it's not just about opening new capacity. It's about making sure that we make those very considered decisions about step-down capacity.

"Every day we are trying to get the right people to the right place. We need to absolutely step that up."

As part of those efforts, an extra 32 beds were recently opened up at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, with 15 more in the coming days.

Twenty have also been made available at the Queen Elizabeth hospital, and 23 at the Angaston Hospital in the Barossa Valley.

SA Health reported another 4374 new COVID-19 infections on Friday, down slightly from the 5054 revealed on Thursday.

That was still somewhat below the state's record daily number of 6091 on April 7.

Recent increases have been attributed to the growth in cases of the new BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants, which now account for about 75 per cent of all SA cases.

Despite the new wave, Health Minister Chris Picton continued to resist the idea of reimposing widespread mask mandates at the same time as he encouraged people to wear masks.

"Certainly, we're continuing to get advice from public health experts. That (a mask mandate) hasn't been a feature of that advice," the minister said.

"But we will continue to ask South Australians to wear masks.

"We know that will make a difference along with all those other measures such as social distancing."

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