Warrnambool's public hospital has admitted its first coronavirus patient, while a sixth person has tested positive at its offsite respiratory assessment clinic.
All six positive tests were people who had recently returned home from overseas and were aged in their 30s to 50s.
South West Healthcare chief executive officer Craig Fraser said the preparation and systems it had put in place to respond to the coronavirus were working effectively.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the hospital said that late last week a community member with the virus was admitted to the Warrnambool Base Hospital through a planned entry and screening in the emergency department, while a sixth person screened positive for the virus at its offsite respiratory assessment clinic.
"The patient in hospital is progressing well while the positive-screened people with mild symptoms are comfortably recovering in self-seclusion," Mr Fraser said
All have recently returned from overseas.
"Don't think it only targets the elderly. The elderly are tragically dying because of it but, throughout the world, younger people are being infected. It is no different here," Mr Fraser said.
"Warrnambool-screened people who've tested positive have been aged in their 30s-50s.
"No one is safe from, or immune to, contracting this virus."
Mr Fraser said he was very proud with the care and calm his staff were providing.
"Staff in the emergency and intensive care units are now wearing masks," he said.
Mr Fraser said that while there was currently no need for other areas to do the same, over time South West Healthcare may move in this direction if the situation changes.
"I'm aware that other hospitals may be wearing masks differently. We're monitoring this locally to ensure we're safe, and to preserve stocks. We have an escalation point where this may change," he said.
He reinforced the hand hygiene and social distancing message.
"Do not come to a hospital, emergency department or GP clinic if you've recently returned from overseas and are now feeling unwell, without first ringing ahead," he said.
"Be kind to our staff. Don't think Coronavirus isn't in your community.
"We're very pleased with how the community's answering the challenge to do the right thing - by everyone - by staying at home, unless it's essential to go out. This needs to continue."
Mr Fraser said the next 14 to 21 days were going to be critical for all of us.
"We cannot afford to be complacent. We need to minimise local transmissions by avoiding contact and following the directions of Premier Daniel Andrews," Mr Fraser said.
New visitor hours commenced on Monday at the Warrnambool Base and Camperdown hospitals.
One visitor per patient per day for one hour, between the hours of 5-7pm, is now being enforced.
Merindah Lodge aged care continues to receive no visitors. And all visitors must be aged above 16.
As of Tuesday, all hospital visitors will be screened on entry which includes a questionnaire and temperature testing.
To screen visitors systematically, access points to SWH facilities are being reduced.
The Warrnambool Base Hospital's underground car park has now closed although staff with swipe access can still enter.
Operating theatres continue to be a day-by-day assessment for emergency and category one electives. This will continue to change.
Community Health and Mental Health Services workers are using telehealth and phones to "meet " with clients when it's not essential to meet face-to-face.
Those who support local people wishing to stay in their homes such as the District Nursing Service, Hospital in The Home, Community Palliative Care, and Community Mental Health are continuing to work.
The South West Medical Centre remains open but seating arrangements in the waiting room now comply with social distancing requirements.
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