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Australia Dedicated coronavirus field hospital to be constructed in Canberra, opening next month

23:20  01 april  2020
23:20  01 april  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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A supplied image obtained on Wednesday, April 1, 2020, shows a woman being tested for Coronavirus (COVID-19) at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney. The number of confirmed cases in NSW on Wednesday grew to 2182, with a 95-year-old woman becoming the ninth COVID-19 death in the state and the 20th death nationwide. © AAP Image/Supplied by St Vincent's Hospital A supplied image obtained on Wednesday, April 1, 2020, shows a woman being tested for Coronavirus (COVID-19) at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney. The number of confirmed cases in NSW on Wednesday grew to 2182, with a 95-year-old woman becoming the ninth COVID-19 death in the state and the 20th death nationwide. A temporary emergency department is being scrambled together by the ACT Government to prepare for an expected boom in demand due to COVID-19.

The surge facility could cost up to $23 million, and will either be built at the Canberra Hospital campus or nearby.

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It is expected to be up and running in just weeks, likely some time in May.

Pictures: Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Australia

Canberra company Aspen Medical, which specialises in delivering medical care in hostile and difficult circumstances, is being contracted to put the field hospital together.

It is expected to add about 50 beds to the ACT's capacity, and will exclusively treat COVID-19 patients.

On its website, Aspen Medical advertises "100-bed mobile hospitals" that can be assembled in less than 72 hours.

They come in both hard-skinned demountable buildings and soft-skinned tents.

It is not yet clear exactly what form the temporary emergency department will take.

Areas hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic have been forced to create makeshift hospitals to deal with extraordinary demand.

In the US state of New York, a tennis centre is being converted into an emergency department, and a floating navy hospital has been repurposed to treat patients.

In the virus's origin point, the Chinese city of Wuhan, large new hospitals were built in less than a fortnight.

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the Government would rather pre-empt a coronavirus surge than have to respond to it.

"We don't want to be in a situation that other countries around the world have been in, where they're trying to expand capacity to deal with COVID-19," she said.

"Of course we are hoping for the best, that our social-distancing measures are effective in flattening the curve.

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"But this is about also planning for that surge capacity that might be required, particularly in those winter months where we know our EDs (emergency departments) are already busy."

Emergency departments under stress before coronavirus

Canberra's emergency departments have struggled to handle ordinary levels of demand in recent years.

Just one in four patients considered "urgent" were seen on time between July and September last year, as the health system handled a challenging flu season.

While emergency capacity has already been expanded through new services at Calvary Hospital, this additional facility is designed to try to alleviate some of that pressure.

And COVID-19 could provide some assistance of its own — presentations at the emergency department at Canberra Hospital have dropped significantly in recent weeks.

There have been roughly one hundred fewer presentations per day than usual, possibly due to reduced activity around the city as social distancing measures are implemented.

The situation in Canberra at the moment is relatively mild compared to other parts of Australia, and a long way behind places like the USA, Italy and Spain.

One person has died of COVID-19 in the ACT, and there are 84 confirmed cases.

Ms Stephen-Smith said that meant it was the right time for the Government to act.

"We have an opportunity, and a responsibility to increase the capacity of our health system," she said.

"So we can continue to provide excellent care to Canberrans throughout this pandemic."

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Coronavirus in the Landes: Nearly 100 staff from the "Alzheimer village" redeployed in nursing homes and hospitals .
The "Alzheimer village" of Dax, a structure unique in France, was to receive the first of 120 residents this month © Loic VENANCE / AFP Visits to nursing homes are temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus, on March 11, 2020.

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