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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Light shed on Victoria’s healthcare workforce infections

Victorian Chief Medical Officer, Professor Andrew Wilson has shed new light on the extent of COVID-19 infections in the state’s health workforce.

Speaking alongside Premier Daniel Andrews today, Professor Wilson said as of Sunday, the state had 2,692 cases of healthcare worker infections, with most having occurred in July and August.

He said in the ‘first wave’ of infections, around 20% of staff had been infected in their workplace.

“Most of the rest were felt to have been infected when they travelled overseas or were contacts of travellers from overseas,” Prof Wilson said.

He said the majority of a ‘second wave’ of cases had been directly related to their workplaces – with more than half occurring in aged care facilities.

“So, aged care workers and nurses who work in aged care settings are a very important part of this group in the second wave,” said Prof Wilson.

“In hospitals, about 70% of people who are infected are nursing staff, with a much smaller number who are medical staff and other healthcare workers. 

“So, the message is that most of the healthcare workers are in aged care, but in hospitals, 70% of the people infected are nursing staff.”

He said around 70 to 80% of infected workers had contracted the virus at work in this second wave of cases.

“In terms of different types of things that we’ve learnt from this data – we’ve been working on this with the hospitals where they’ve had outbreaks, particularly, and particularly those outbreaks for several weeks,” said Prof Wilson.

“And there’s a lot of things that have already been changed to deal with this infection risk. 

“We know that many of the people in these infections have occurred in outbreaks where there’s been a number of people infected at one time.

“And they’ve had contact with other staff members and also with patients in that environment, and they’ve worked in an environment where there’s a high number of people, patients and other workers who’ve been infected in the one place at the one time.”

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