Australia opens 1st 'virtual hospital' for COVID-19 patients

A NSW Police personnel in personal protective equipment reacts during the Strike Force Bast raid of the Ruby Princess cruise ship at Port Kembla, New South Wales, Australia, April 8, 2020, in this still image from video. (Photo: Agencies)

SYDNEY - Australia has started a trial of its first "virtual hospital" for COVID-19 patients in the State of New South Wales (NSW), a local television network reported on Wednesday.

Armidale hospital in NSW began the trial on Wednesday which would allow COVID-19 patients with moderate symptoms to return home with a monitoring device to report their vital life signs.

With the help of artificial intelligence, a team of doctors then could monitor the health of patients remotely and call them back to hospital if their condition deteriorated.

"This is a simple device worn on the wrist on patients that transmits vital signs of heart and lung function to a virtual ward at a hospital where real-time monitoring can be reviewed by clinicians," University of New England Dean of Medicine, Professor Rod McClure told Channel Seven News.

More virtual hospitals could emerge across Australia if the trial were successful which would save hospital beds.

Australia was bracing for potential shortage of medical resources if the COVID-19 pandemic worsened across the nation.