Melburnians seeking urgent medical help overnight were told there were lengthy delays overnight after ambos were swamped by demand.
Ambulance Victoria declared a rare “code red” overnight after the service experienced an “extremely high demand” for ambulances across the city.
Patients were told just past midnight there would “likely” be a delay in an ambulance reaching them.
The code red came as Victoria recorded 14,020 new Covid cases on Tuesday, nearly double the previous day’s total.
However, the declaration was downgraded by 3am.
An Ambulance Victoria spokesman said by that time “demand for ambulance services (had) eased”.
“Our priority is to provide care to Victorians who require life-saving assistance,” he said.
“We thank the community for helping us save triple-0 for emergencies.”
A code red was averted in November 2021, but was declared during the Black Saturday bushfires, during the 2016 thunderstorm asthma event and once in December 2020.
Victorians are being urged to call nurse on call (1300 60 60 24) or visit their local GP if their illness is not an emergency.
US HITS ONE MILLION CASES IN 24 HOURS
The United States recorded more than one million Covid-19 cases on Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, as the Omicron variant spread at a blistering pace.
There were 1,080,211 new cases in the country, a global record, with the number of cases doubling on the previous week.
It comes a day after top US pandemic advisor Anthony Fauci said the country was experiencing “almost a vertical increase” in Covid-19 cases, adding the peak may be only weeks away.
The heavily mutated Omicron strain — the most transmissible to date — accounted for around 59 per cent of national US cases in the week ending December 25, according to government modelling.
Read the latest international Covid news here.
CONFUSION OVER JAB ROLLOUT FOR KIDS
Teachers, parents and doctors have called on the state and federal governments to provide more certainty around the rollout of vaccines for kids.
Children aged five to 11 become eligible for their first dose on Monday, however the state government has still not revealed details of where kids will be able to get vaccinated.
Federal Covid-19 task force commander Lieutenant-General John Frewen on Tuesday confirmed there was “no issue” with vaccine supply. But first- dose bookings for under-12s were delayed on Monday after the state’s online booking system, due to open for appointments on Tuesday, was struck by a glitch.
Many doctors have also been forced to turn eager parents away because they still have not received confirmation of supply.
Prominent GP Mukesh Haikerwal said he planned to begin the rollout over the weekend, but wouldn’t accept bookings until the paediatric Pfizer doses were in the fridge.
“Some (GPs) will take a punt, but others who have been burnt on previous occasions will wait until the vaccines are physically in the fridge,” he said.
Dr Haikerwal said the mass confusion could have been avoided if governments briefed doctors before making public announcements.
“They want to announce it because it looks really good, but no one gets a chance to prepare for it. Just saying something is going to happen doesn’t mean it’s going to happen,” he said.
While the online booking system for state-run clinics was being retested on Tuesday night, Victoria’s Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said the technical glitch wouldn’t delay the rollout.
“I know many parents will be very keen to get their children vaccinated so they can join the rest of us and face a future with more confidence,” he said.
But key stakeholders have called for governments to urgently provide confidence that kids will be vaccinated before they return to school.
Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace said: “Education staff, parents and students need clarity from the federal and state governments regarding the logistics of the rollout … and certainty from the federal government that the supply will be available when and where it is required.”
Parents Victoria executive officer Gail McHardy said parents should be told when and where kids can get vaccinated to ensure a “smooth process without any anxiety”. She said that would help to ensure a good start to the school year.
The federal government has ordered about 5.5 million of Pfizer’s paediatric doses for the 2.3 million Australian children aged 5-11.
Originally published as Ambos’ overnight code red warning; confusion over jab rollout for kids