COVID scare at Royal Children’s as Victoria records 1571 new local COVID-19 cases, 13 deaths

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Dozens of sick and vulnerable babies at the Royal Children’s Hospital have been plunged into isolation with their parents, after a father visited his sick baby on the neonatal intensive care ward while unknowingly infectious with COVID-19.

As a result, RCH chief executive Bernadette McDonald said the hospital would introduce rapid antigen testing for all visitors by the end of this week.

Royal Children’s Hospital chief executive Bernadette McDonald.Credit:Getty Images

“They will need to do that testing when they enter the hospital, before they get into any clinical wards they’ll have to have a negative test,” she said.

“This is not foolproof, it won’t guarantee that we won’t have another exposure, but it helps us minimise the risk of that happening.”

Ms McDonald said the COVID-positive father visited Butterfly ward, the hospital’s neonatal intensive care ward, on Thursday or Friday and notified the hospital after he tested positive on Monday evening.

She said there were 29 babies in the ward when the father visited. Two of the babies were declared tier 1 or close contacts, while the remainder are tier 2 or casual contacts.

All the families of the 29 babies had been contacted and were being tested for COVID-19, Ms McDonald said. So far, none of the babies have tested positive for coronavirus.

Ms McDonald said the hospital usually had about five patients at a time with COVID-19.

“We have negative pressure rooms that the children who are positive for COVID are cared for in, and we have enough negative pressure rooms to deal with the demand that we’ve got at this point in time,” she said.

Last week, child cancer patients and their families at the hospital were asked to isolate for 14 days after another unknowingly infected parent visited.

Victoria recorded 1571 new local cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 13 deaths.

There were 79,200 COVID-19 tests processed on Tuesday, while 38,072 people received a coronavirus vaccine at a state-run clinic.

Victoria now has 19861 active coronavirus cases.

Health authorities identified a number of new COVID-19 exposure sites in regional Victoria late on Tuesday evening.

They were all tier-1 or close contact, and included the Wangaratta RSL and the nearby Pinsent Hotel and The Old ‘N’ Country Tavern.

A farm equipment supplier at Trafalgar in the West Gippsland region was declared tier 1 on Friday, October 8 between 8am and 4.30pm, while a shower block at the Wakiti Creek Resort at Kotupna was declared a tier 1 site over two days: Tuesday, October 5 and Wednesday, October 6.

The National Hotel Complex at Bendigo was declared a tier 1 site on Monday, October 4 between 6.56pm and 9.30pm, while Bomboras Torquay, on the Surf Coast, was also listed for Wednesday, October 6 between 11.50am and 12.50pm.

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