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‘He will return as Premier’: Deputy bats away leadership speculation as Andrews recovers

Mr Andrews has been temporarily replaced by Mr Merlino, who said he would continue to inform Victorians about the Premier’s treatment plan.

“It was great to talk to him personally,” Mr Merlino said. “He’s fine. He was up and about, he’s getting great care great support from his family as you’d appreciate … I’m sure that I’ll be speaking to him pretty regularly over the course of the next few weeks.”

Late on Wednesday night, the Premier’s Office said there was no “immediate” need for spinal surgery, according to clinicians at The Alfred.

A government source who spoke on condition of anonymity said there was still more than a 50 per cent chance Mr Andrews would need surgery, but that decision would be made closer to the weekend.

On Wednesday, Mr Andrews was comfortable, according to the director of The Alfred’s intensive care unit, Steve McGloughlin.

“A multidisciplinary team, including intensive care, trauma and orthopaedic specialists, has developed a treatment plan together with the Andrews family,” Associate Professor McGloughlin said.

Acting Premier James Merlino and Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan address the media at the eastern entrance to the Metro Tunnel on Thursday.

Acting Premier James Merlino and Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan address the media at the eastern entrance to the Metro Tunnel on Thursday.Credit:Joe Armao

“Mr Andrews has sustained some serious injuries, and his condition is being monitored closely.”

A leading orthopaedic surgeon said it appeared he had avoided a worst-case scenario of spinal cord damage.

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Mr Merlino and Ms Allan spoke on Thursday at the site of the Metro Tunnel’s eastern entrance in South Yarra, where tunnelling has been completed more than five months ahead of schedule, according to the government.

Crews have spent the past two years building the tunnel entrance, which has involved widening the existing rail corridor, excavating more than 31,000 cubic metres of rock and soil and building a base slab, internal walls and roof slab using more than 7700 cubic metres of concrete.

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