The Victorian government has changed its advice to expectant parents, saying there is no limit on how long partners can remain with new mothers after they give birth.
On Thursday, Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said a woman giving birth could have their partner or a support person “with her for as long as is required for the entire labour and birth”.
“Then their partner or support person is able to be with them for a two-hour visit after the baby is born,” she said.
A state government spokeswoman on Friday clarified the changes referred to visitors in the days after birth.
Visitor numbers are capped at one, for a maximum of two hours.
The change was made to ensure consistency after some hospitals were reportedly not allowing any pre- or postnatal visits.
President of Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Dr Vijay Roach was glad the government changed its position.
“Kudos to the government to responding to the concern,” he told ABC Radio National on Friday.
“When we are talking about pregnancy and pregnant woman they have particular needs, there is increased anxiety and it’s a really important bonding time when someone gives birth, so we felt it was important to emphasise after the birth their partner was able to stay with them for as long as appropriate.”
The measures are part of efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 in health and aged care settings.
Other hospital visits have been capped at one person per patient for one hour per day, with exceptions for parents with children in hospital and visitors of patients in palliative care.
It comes as outbreaks at aged care facilities continue to climb, with the national regulator stepping in to help manage the outbreak at St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Fawkner, which is now linked to 73 cases.
Victoria recorded the nation’s deadliest day of coronavirus with five deaths and 403 new cases on Thursday.
The latest victims included three aged care residents – a woman in her 70s, two men in their 80s and 90s – as well as two men aged 50 and 70.
Premier Daniel Andrews issued a stark reminder that the virus did not discriminate and everyone was at risk.
“One of the terrible tragedies today is a man in his 50s – this is not just something that affects people that are frail-aged,” Mr Andrews said.
The five deaths took the state’s toll to 49 and the national figure to 133.