‘Non-urgent’ medical care to be delayed due to coronavirus

Premier Daniel Andrews has warned some health services may have to be delayed if coronavirus cases surge across Victoria.

Mr Andrews said the option was not yet on the cards but cautioned it could become a possibility as more cases were identified.

"In the interest of being completely clear with people it may be that we need to defer or cancel a whole range of non-urgent care," he said.

"There will be large numbers of people who are sicker and need to be treated much quicker than those who might be on elective surgery waiting lists.

"That will be inconvenient. That will be challenging but that is the only evidence-based (and) fact-based way to respond to the circumstances.

"That may be the case. We're not there yet."

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. Picture: AAP
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. Picture: AAP

Mr Andrews said the state government would provide $6 million to the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity.

The money will be used in partnership with the Burnet Institute to fast-track new treatments and vaccine research.

"We can be proud as Victorians that we have the best and brightest minds in science and medical research," he said.

Victoria's deputy chief health officer for communicable diseases, Dr Annaliese van Diemen, said people should use common sense when it came to shaking and washing hands.

"I know there's been a lot of discussions in the last 24 hours about stopping handshakes," she said.

"What we're recommending is people be sensible.

"The highest priorities at the moment are ensuring that you wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, particularly when they're visibly soiled.

"Cough in to your elbow, sneeze into your elbow and try very hard to avoid touching the face.

"Which, once you concentrate on it, is a very difficult thing to do."

Dr van Diemen said the Federal Government was working to check flight manifests and boarding cards more quickly.

"We have been working very hard for a number of years with Commonwealth agencies in order to speed up this process," she said.


Travellers arrive at Melbourne Airport wearing face masks. Picture: Ian Currie
Travellers arrive at Melbourne Airport wearing face masks. Picture: Ian Currie