Victoria has recorded 20,769 new Covid cases a day after authorities declared a code brown for the state’s hospitals.
In Victoria, 18 people died from the virus overnight with 1173 currently hospitalised.
There are 125 patients in intensive care, with 42 on a ventilator.
While authorities this week revealed a peak of the current outbreak is in sight, hospitalisations are expected to rise in the coming weeks.
The state government on Tuesday declared a code brown for all metropolitan and six regional hospitals, with extreme pressure expected to be placed on the health system over the next month.
It means all but the most essential and urgent medical care will be deferred, workers might have leave postponed and other staff will be redeployed to potentially different roles and departments.
It’s expected the measure will last for around four to six weeks.
“We’ve been saying for some time that our hospital system is under extreme pressure and the risks we’re seeing now in hospitalisations are testament to that,” Deputy Premier James Merlino told reporters on Tuesday.
“We’ve reached a point in our health system where it’s juggling severe workforce shortages.”
The “code brown” has been activated for all hospitals in metropolitan Melbourne, as well as at Barwon Health, Grampians Health, Bendigo Health, Goulburn Valley Health, Albury Wodonga Health and Latrobe Regional Hospital.
It is the first time the measure has been enforced across the state’s hospital system to brace for the expected rise in hospitalisations due to Covid.
Hospitalisations have been on a steady increase in Victoria since the Omicron variant emerged in December.
Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton said it was important people made sure they were vaccinated to ease pressure on the system.
“Those hospital numbers are going to increase, there’s a lag compared to our daily case numbers and over the next few weeks we will see hospital numbers go up,” he said.
“We really need to make sure we’re protecting each and every single person who is eligible for a booster to avoid hospital.”