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Australia's ICU Beds Will Be Over Capacity In Just One Week, Study Says

A new study forecasting the capacity of Australian hospitals to treat people in intensive care units (ICU) will be exceeded in about a week.

Published by the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA), the study compared real data of the infection in Italy to forecast how many Australians will need an intensive care unit bed in the coming weeks.

"ICU capacity will be exceeded at around 22,000 COVID-19 cases sometime around April 5 if public health measures fail to curb the rate of growth," the study concluded.

Australia currently has about 2,200 ICU beds, according to the MJA study.

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"Over the coming months it's going to take courage, brains and a concerted unified effort to manage the infection," Professor Nick Talley said.

"While the results reported may represent a worst-case scenario and may not come to pass, we must better prepare, now."

Calls to urgently increase hospital capacity have been voiced repeatedly over the last week.

Swiss doctor Professor Paolo Ferrari criticised the government for stepping in too late to stop the spread of the virus and warned about the need to increase ICU beds.

Under his advice, the Swiss region of Ticino grew its intensive care capacity ten days before it even had one positive case, turning different locations into coronavirus-dedicated hospitals.

Professor Talley said in order to take action, "bureaucrats must step to the sidelines."

"We will also require our health system leadership to understand at a time like this the structure in every hospital should be a military-like command-and-control one," he added.