Elective surgery will scale up again in Victoria as the state lifts its code brown pandemic alert for the health system.
The unprecedented alert was issued in January as hospitals and health services came under increasing pressure due to the Omicron wave, and saw urgent services further cut back and staff leave postponed.
The measure had been in place for just more than three weeks and will be lifted at midday on Monday.
"Next week is the fourth week and we're confident that while still going to be very, very busy that we are in a position to safely lift the code brown alert," Health Minister Martin Foley told reporters.
Non-urgent elective surgery will also be ramped up from next week, allowing private hospitals to perform up to half of all elective surgery in metropolitan hospitals, and 75 per cent in regional Victoria.
The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the Royal Eye and Ear Hospital will also be able to resume category two surgery, and regional public hospitals can restart category two elective surgery depending on staff availability.
Opposition health spokesperson Georgie Crozier told reporters the code brown should never have been imposed and many Victorians are desperate for elective surgery.
"This is not as a result of COVID, this is years of mismanagement," she said.
All other public hospitals in Melbourne will continue to be restricted to emergency and urgent elective surgery, with the health minister to consider further easing next week.
It comes as Victoria records another 13 deaths from COVID-19, and 8521 new cases.
Of the new cases, 5359 were detected through rapid antigen tests, and 3162 through PCR testing.
The state is now managing 55,617 active cases, with 553 people in hospital, 82 in intensive care and 23 on ventilation.
State-run hubs administered 14,650 vaccine doses on Thursday, and about 49 per cent of Victorians over 18 have received a booster shot.
At the same time, more than 1000 extra people have signed up to help with the state's third-dose vaccination push, including health students and retired nurses.
Also on Friday, the state's police association said officers have been given until midnight on Friday to show proof that they are booked for a third dose in order to continue working.
Police Association of Victoria secretary Wayne Gatt said the issue has caused an administrative nightmare for police members, many of whom have recently had COVID-19.
"To continue to do this at the eleventh hour with imperfect health orders, that means employees and employers have to confront this anxiety at midnight about how they can provide evidence of their intent to get boosted, is simply ludicrous," he told reporters.
He has called on the state government to give Victoria Police and other emergency workers another week to get their booster booking in order.
But Mr Foley said officers had been allowed time during their shifts to book a third dose, and he was confident the vast majority of police have already had a booster.
The state's chief health officer extended the deadline late Thursday for key workers to get a booster, allowing another four weeks.
It means health and aged care, emergency, disability, quarantine and food distribution workers eligible for a third dose before January 12 will now have until March 12 to receive their booster.
Workers in those sectors who became eligible after January 12 must have received their third vaccine dose by March 29.
Australian Associated Press
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