An experienced intensive care nurse has warned a growing number of younger people are catching coronavirus as the state battles the deadly outbreak.
Michelle Spence is the head ICU nurse at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and said Victoria’s medical community was preparing for the possibility of deaths among the state’s younger population.
‘What we are seeing now is young people who are going to die. There is no doubt about it … these are people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, who have no past history,’ Ms Spence told the ABC.
Health Department figures show that as of Friday 39 people under 60-years-old were being treated for COVID-19 in Victorian hospitals.
This is about 20 per cent of the state’s coronavirus cases and includes five people in their 20s and 30s in the intensive care unit and one child with the virus.
‘We’re definitely not just seeing the elderly, that is not the case at all,’ Ms Spence said.
The Royal Melbourne Hospital has acquired 22 additional ventilators as doctors prepare for an influx of severe cases of the disease.
Ms Spence said that little was known about how long the recovery process takes and whether there are any lingering effects from the virus even after leaving hospital.
She urged young people to wear masks and acknowledged while they might be inconvenient, they were ‘way more comfortable than being on a ventilator’.
On Thursday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said there was a growing number of younger people contracting COVID-19 in Melbourne’s second wave.
‘It would be wrong to assume that young people are somehow more immune to this,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘There are a lot of young people who have died of this in other parts of the world,’ he said.
His government ordered residents of Australia’s second-biggest city to wear masks when they venture out in public with fines of $200 for those who flout the rule from Thursday.
The state recorded 300 new coronavirus cases and a record six deaths on Friday – a dip from a record peak of 484 cases on Wednesday, but Melbourne’s 19th consecutive day of triple-digit rises.
The greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire areas are two weeks into a six week lockdown imposed to gain control over the outbreak.
Mr Andrews said the restrictions had helped stabilise infection numbers, but the next step was driving them down.
His government revealed earlier this week about 90 per cent of those who developed symptoms were continuing to move about the community.
He urged all Victorians to follow the rules by wearing the masks and limiting social gatherings.
His government has also introduced a $300 payment so those workers in casual jobs, usually on the frontline in dealing with the public such as supermarket and hospitality workers, can take leave to self-isolate.
‘If you want this to be over, if you want to get to the other side of it and find that COVID normal … and be able to go and have a beer, or go and have a meal with a friend and be able to move around the community much more freely than you can now, you’ve got to follow the rules.’