Tas braces for thousands of COVID-19 cases



Tasmania is bracing to hit 2000 daily COVID-19 cases within weeks, as dozens of staff are furloughed at a major Hobart hospital.

The island state reported 702 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, eclipsing its previous mark of 466 a day earlier.

Active infections have risen to 2244 cases, and 2088 tests were processed on Monday.

Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff has warned daily cases will rise further, along with the number of COVID-related hospital admissions.

“Over the next few weeks, we may have some 2000 cases per day,” he told reporters in Launceston on Tuesday.

“Our health system is prepared and expecting to deal with any eventuality. Naturally, with more active cases that present that will also mean there will be more people that would require hospitalisation.”

There are currently three people in hospital, one being treated specifically for COVID-19 and two positive patients for other conditions. No one is in intensive care or on a ventilator.

Seventy-one cases are being cared for at community case management facilities and 275 are being managed at home.

About 40 staff at the Royal Hobart Hospital are expected to be furloughed after being identified as close contacts, Mr Rockliff confirmed.

“That decision has been made today to ensure we can ensure a functioning hospital environment in the south,” he added.

It is unclear whether the staff are close contacts of a fellow COVID-positive worker or patient. The hospital and Department of Health have been contacted by AAP for comment.

Mr Rockliff said the hospital will go to “escalation level three” and there may be a reduction of services, most likely to outpatients.

There was no update on testing of 90 passengers and staff on the Coral Discoverer cruise ship, after two COVID-positive people were removed from the vessel on Monday.

But Mr Rockliff confirmed there is a positive case on King Island, off the northwest coast of Tasmania.

Meanwhile, a new testing clinic will open at Kingston from Wednesday to increase capacity.

The drive-through clinic at Kingborough Sports Centre will be open from 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays.

We’ve Already Come Too Far To End This Now.

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