Launceston General Hospital would only be used to treat patients from closed North-West Coast hospitals if their conditions were serious enough to need transfer, Chief Medical Officer Tony Lawler confirmed on Sunday.
To contain a COVID-19 outbreak, the Tasmanian Government announced it would take the unprecedented step of temporarily closing Burnie's public and private hospitals from 7am Monday.
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Most inpatients at the hospitals will be treated at the Mersey Community Hospital.
Professor Lawler said for the sake of infection control it would be assumed that all existing North-West inpatients were COVID-19 positive cases.
"Patients will only be transferred elsewhere in the state should their condition clinically require it," he said.
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Health Minister Sarah Courtney said all North West Regional Hospital (NWRH) and North West Private Hospital staff and their households - about 1000 people - would be forced into quarantine for 14 days.
She said the government was "working through" how many staff would need to be brought in from other Tasmanian hospitals to fill the void created by the compulsory quarantining of the existing North-West workforce.
"We're confident that we have a cohort of staff that are able to man the Mersey Community Hospital," Ms Courtney said.
Extra Ambulance Tasmania and aeromedical crews would be deployed to deal with the fall out of the hospital closures and maintain emergency care capacity in the North-West, Ms Courtney advised.
In a bid to remove traces of COVID-19 from North-West hospitals, a deep clean of both facilities will take place.
Ms Courtney said it was hoped the NWRH emergency department could be reopened after 48 hours with a "clean contingent of staff".
Professor Lawler said it would not be appropriate to say how many patients would be affected by the temporarily hospital closures.
"The Mersey Hospital is well set up in terms of staffing... this is the only feasible and safe option to contain this outbreak," he said.
"There have been concerns raised by staff that we should have been doing something more strenuous in the past... there's no doubt that we will face difficult times through this."
Premier Peter Gutwein said the drastic measures were needed because of the increasingly large number of North West COVID-19 cases.
"It is important that we do everything that we possibly can to stamp this out right now," Mr Gutwein said.
The suggestion the North-West should be cut off from the rest of Tasmania was impractical, Mr Gutwein said.
"You've got freight routes that need to continue, you'll have emergency services that will need to continue.
"It gives us no pleasure to ask more than 1000 people to go into quarantine and to have to spend the next two weeks locked away...but it's the best way to ensure that we can stamp this out."
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