Acting on advice from the chief health officer that there is a continued serious and potentially catastrophic risk to public health arising from COVID-19, I have extended the state of emergency until midnight, 11 May 2020. The extension will ensure the government can continue its enforcement of social distancing, isolation and other vital legal directions designed to flatten the curve of coronavirus, to protect our health system and to save lives.
As part of the Victorian government’s coronavirus preparedness response, the Premier and I announced a $1.9 billion investment to deliver an extra 4000 ICU beds, more equipment and staff training, as well as millions of items of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers. We have also massively expanded the public health team to undertake contact tracing, we have opened screening clinics around Victoria and we have expanded pathology capacity so more labs can test for COVID-19. We have established the Hotels for Heroes program to enable our dedicated healthcare workers to self-isolate at no cost to them.
This is the biggest public health challenge we have faced in our lifetimes. Whilst we are starting to see some improvement in the rate of transmission, now is not the time for complacency. We still have a long way to go. If we relax the rules now, the virus will start to spread quickly and our health system will be overwhelmed. I want to take this opportunity to thank Victorians who are doing the right thing by staying at home, but we must keep at it in order to save lives. Our message to Victorians has not changed, and that is to stay home, protect our health system and save lives.