Jul 22, 2020

Aged care increasingly vulnerable as COVID-19 crisis escalates 


Victoria’s chief health officer has confirmed that aged care facilities have been one of the largest sources of COVID-19 infection in the current crisis, an alarming admission considering the vulnerability of elderly people to the virus.

Dr Brett Sutton said in a press conference today that a significant number of COVID-19 cases were contracted in aged care facilities, as well as other health care locations, large indoor venues and large apartment settings. 

“For outbreak settings, there’s a significant contribution in aged care,” he said.

Record cases

The premier Daniel Andrews revealed there were a record 484 new COVID-19 cases in Victoria recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday night.

He said there are now COVID-19 cases in 45 aged care settings, consisting of 383 cases, and approximately a 50:50 breakdown between residents and staff.

The largest breakdown is now at St Basil’s Home for the Aged in Fawkner, with 51 cases. 

Mr Andrews said a surge workforce had been provided to the home due to the “challenging setting”.

“There were so many staff that had tested positive or were close contacts that there needed to be a supplementary workforce put in,” he said.

People not self isolating awaiting test results

The premier said Victorians are not being tested early enough and they are not self-isolating while awaiting test results.

Analysis of testing results has shown that nine out of 10 who are sick are taking too long to get tested and more than half of those who have been tested are not staying home while waiting for their results.

He said people taking too long to get tested even when they feel sick will “drive transmission more than anything else”. 

“More than half of those who’ve gone for a test are not staying at home while they’re waiting for the results of that test. That will drive transmission pretty heavily too,” he said. 

Mr Andrews said the government’s biggest challenge is transmission that is “directly relatable, directly connected” to people feeling sick but not doing anything about it and instead going to work, the supermarket, going and doing normal, ordinary things.” 

He urged people to get tested as soon as they experience symptoms and to remain at home while they wait for their results.

Aged care residents assessed for hospital on “case-by-case” basis

Mr Andrews said residents would continue to be assessed on a case-by-base basis to determine if they would be transferred to hospital.

“For me to stand at the podium and say we will move everybody out – not because of the medical opinion but because I think that is a good thing to do – that doesn’t make any sense,” he said. 

“I have some experience in a previous life about these matters – moving frail aged people out of nursing homes is not a good thing to do unless you absolutely have to.”

Any covering better than no covering 

Mr Andrews said the government has ordered more than 2 million masks and would give an update on who would get them “in good time”. 

He said if masks are not available “any covering is better than no covering”.


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