Peter Malinauskas says the state’s hospitals had one of their worst periods in terms of demand last week and SA health is now racing to prepare for a COVID surge.

South Australia will boost hospital capacity to handle COVID-19 patients amid forecasts for case numbers to increase sharply.

New Premier Peter Malinauskas said SA Health had been asked to look at ways to ensure hospitals were better prepared in light of recently updated modelling, which pointed to 8000 cases a day within the next few weeks.

“What you will see in that modelling is that case numbers, even with current policy settings, are set to escalate in a rather significant way,” Mr Malinauskas said.
 
“South Australians are entitled to know where we’re at.

“People have seen case numbers go up and that looks as though it’s continuing in the very near future.”

Mr Malinauskas said a briefing with health officials had revealed SA hospitals were under extraordinary strain and had one of their worst periods last week in terms of demand.
 
That resulted in a decision on Friday to cancel some elective surgery, he said.

The new premier has also signalled a shift in the way the SA government manages the pandemic, with a decision to abolish the COVID Ready Committee and put responsibility in the hands of a sub-committee of the state cabinet.

He said the Emergency Management Council would have more authority to make decisions.

Mr Malinauskas said more broadly he had a desire for SA to fall into line with other states in terms of ongoing virus rules.

Amid concerns around the latest virus modelling, SA will keep its mask mandates and isolation rules in place but the premier said more would be said on those rules on Friday after the first meeting of the Emergency Management Council.

SA reported another 3686 new virus infections on Tuesday with 165 people in hospital including 11 in intensive care.
 
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