Hospital beds

The State and Federal governments’ move to enlist private hospitals to join the fight against coronavirus is one that shows foresight and pragmatism in an ever evolving crisis.
The State Government hopes the extra 1700 beds freed up in SA under the private hospital deal will never be needed and modelling indicates that the State could be starting to win the war, with the number of new cases each day slowing over the past week.
But if the Federal Government’s tightening restrictions and public warnings aren’t enough to warn us all of how serious this threat could still become, the tens of thousands of deaths overseas and images of trucks converted to morgues lining New York streets should reinforce the point.
While modelling so far does indicate that our Government’s strict social isolation regime does seem to be flattening the curve – giving the nation a much better hope of managing the crisis and undoubtedly saving many lives – it’s important to remember that testing was, until recently, restricted to those who had travelled or been in contact with a confirmed case.
Those criteria are now starting to loosen and the resulting figures could indicate that Australia is not yet out of the woods.
Under the circumstances, Scott Morrison and Steven Marshall’s unprecedented private hospital deal shows vital initiative.
It’s a pragmatic approach which, in Mr Marshall’s words, “looks at every single possible scenario and plans for the worst case scenario”.
An extra 1700 beds in SA – including almost doubling the State’s ICU capacity – could be the difference between life and death for hundreds of people, should the pandemic follow the course it has taken in other countries.
In Australia, early Government action to close our borders, first to China and later to the rest of the world, followed by tightening social distancing rules, has given us the advantage of watching and learning as the crisis unfolds in other countries.
That has put our Governments on the front foot, putting measures in place before the crisis reaches its peak rather than while it is peaking.
But even though we have so far avoided the level of catastrophe unfolding overseas, now is no time for complacency.
This pandemic has already claimed the lives of 42 Australians (as of Tuesday).
And every Australian has a role to play in making sure we keep that number as low as possible.
So while the Government activates its contingency plans, we must continue to do every thing we can – including staying home as often as possible – to win this war.