Post-lockdown hope as surgery ban lifted within days
AUSTRALIANS in pain or needing dental treatment will be prioritised under a elective surgery plan to be put to National Cabinet today, as a further dip in new coronavirus cases pressures states to unveil a detailed timetable for lifting restrictions.
Revelations of a recommencement of elective surgery at private and public hospitals in a couple of weeks come as the Federal Government expects to receive its first consignment of home-produced ventilators, another provision needed in the path to easing shutdowns.
And a key medical body says people needing elective surgery should undergo 14 days of quarantine before their procedures, to protect both healthcare workers and patients under the moves to ease restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.
Australian Society of Anaesthetists president Suzi Nou said that apart from ensuring adequate supplies of personal protective equipment before surgery restrictions were relaxed, patients should also be required to go into quarantine for a fortnight before their operations.
"We understand that people will be keen to have surgery and do not want to prolong any unnecessary delays but we do want surgery to proceed safely for individuals, their families and for healthcare workers," Dr Nou said.
She said the experience overseas had been that patients with COVID-19 fared much worse after surgery.
Non-urgent elective surgery was suspended in Australia in March to free up beds and health workers to cater for an anticipated surge in COVID-19 patients, and to save protective equipment, such as masks, gowns, gloves and face shields.
But as the numbers of new infections across Australia have reduced to fewer than 100 every day since April 9, discussions have turned to restarting at least some non-urgent elective procedures.
While the National Cabinet is expected to relax elective surgery restrictions, surgical lists are unlikely to return to normal at this stage, given the ongoing pandemic.
Some non-urgent elective surgery procedures, such as ear, nose and throat operations, may still be considered too risky to go ahead.
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said while the pandemic was a long way from being over, the state's success in avoiding "unmanageable numbers of COVID-19 cases" meant it had capacity to resume some critical services.
He said the state's Pandemic Health Response Leadership Team had a delegated subcommittee which was exploring elective surgery capability and priorities if the National Cabinet moved to ease elective surgery restrictions.
National Cabinet will meet today for the first time since Prime Minister Scott Morrison laid out the path to reversing some economic and social restrictions.
It is likely Premiers will again receive an update on the scenarios out, new economic data about the jobless rate, proposed coronavirus app and elective surgery.
School shutdowns remains a contentious issue within National Cabinet given the Prime Minister believes there is no medical reason to keep them mothballed.
Highly-placed sources have also revealed it is expected NSW will be more forward leaning on opening their schools next week, revealing a hotchpotch of rules for schools and teachers across the country.
The Courier-Mail can reveal more than 3000 ventilators have been delivered to the Commonwealth from Australian manufacturing company ResMed.
The equipment will be used for the COVID-19 stockpile.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said a further 2500 ventilators were coming, builds on the 4400 existing units in Australia and a further 2000 being manufactured by Grey Innovation - another Aussie company - and its consortium of local manufacturers and engineering firms.
Originally published as Post-lockdown hope as surgery ban lifted within days