The Victorian government has poured $437 million into the health system as it prepares for an expected surge in the coronavirus crisis.
More than $80 million will be used to open 129 new hospital beds over the next 12 weeks, including 84 at Melbourne’s old Peter Mac Hospital.
Another 45 beds will be opened at Bendigo Hospital, while Baxter House Hospital in Geelong will be recommissioned with consulting rooms and a virus clinic.
“We will set up old wards and they will be new again,” Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Thursday.
Victoria is expected to face an extra 45,000 emergency department presentations, 5000 more hospitals admissions and a further 2000 intensive care unit admissions when the COVID-19 pandemic peaks.
Hospitals across the state will share in $115 million to help meet demand, while $107 million will be spent on new equipment.
Funds will also be spent backfilling healthcare workers who are sent into isolation.
Truck curfews have also been lifted throughout the state to help cope with unprecedented demand for household products at supermarkets.
Victoria confirmed 29 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, taking the state’s tally to 150.
The new cases include 17 men and 12 women, aged from their early 20s to their early 70s.
Seven of all confirmed cases in the state have required hospitalisation and 28 people have recovered.
A University of Melbourne staff member is among the cases and in isolation.
Parks Victoria made the decision on Thursday to close popular tourist attractions amid the virus outbreak, including the Twelve Apostles visitor centre and lookouts, the St Kilda Pier penguin viewing platform and the 1000 Steps in the Dandenong Ranges.
Meanwhile, more than 2000 people were forced to spend hours aboard a cruise ship at a Melbourne dock as passengers were screened for coronavirus.
The Golden Princess ship reached Station Pier in Port Melbourne early on Thursday morning and by mid-afternoon, the tests were confirmed negative and the passengers began the process of disembarking.
State parliament is also set to adjourn until a date yet to be confirmed due to the virus.
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