Aug 17, 2020

Victoria records its deadliest day of pandemic

Victoria has recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic yet, with the Department of Health and Human Services reporting 25 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Of the 25, 22 deaths were associated with outbreaks in aged care facilities.

There were also 282 new cases recorded, indicating infection growth rates are beginning to ease in the wake of the tough restrictions being imposed on Victorians.

Geriatrician at Royal Melbourne Hospital, Kate Gregorevic, told HelloCare that while the numbers are “extremely sad”, there is also some cause for hope.

“It’s devastating for all the families involved, but we shouldn’t lose hope because the thing about this disease is it doesn’t kill people in the first day or two of the infection, it kills people around 10-14 days after they first get it.

“So what we’re seeing now are the deaths from that peak that happened a couple of weeks ago.

“I expect as the (case) numbers go down, we are going to see the number of deaths going down, but there will be a bit of a lag.”

Dr Gregorevic said the deaths recorded today are largely a reflection of the recent outbreaks in aged care facilities.

“We are now seeing the poor people who caught it in residential care who are frail and older and more vulnerable, we’re seeing the results of that,” she said.

“Hopefully we get control of outbreaks in residential aged care, because that group has the highest risk of dying.”

Melbourne facilities struggling to cope

Melbourne aged care homes are continuing to struggle to cope with outbreaks.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews confirmed on Sunday that Western Health has taken over the operations of Japara Goonawarra Aged Care Home in Sunbury and Doutta Galla Aged Services home in Yarraville, following claims residents were being left without food for hours and without enough staff to clothe and bathe residents. 

According to a report by the ABC, residents at Doutta Galla who had tested negative to COVID-19 had been transferred to hospital to prevent them from contracting the virus, while five who had tested positive had also been transferred to hospital.

There have been 72 cases associated with the Japara facility, 43 residents and 24 staff, and 58 cases associated with Doutta Galla, 33 residents and 25 staff.

Seven residents have died at Doutta Galla.

Mr Hunt said last night Joe Buffone, who leads the Aged Care Response Team, responded to calls from Doutta Galla for extra staff in the middle of the night on Sunday, which have been provided in addition to additional AUSMAT assistance.

Residents with COVID-19 must go to hospital

The news comes as the federal Health Minister Greg Hunt called for any resident to be sent to hospital if they test positive for COVID-19 and are assessed as having “a clinical need”.

“I know there are some facilities that have reported resistance at local hospital level,” he said at a press conference on Sunday. 

“Any aged care resident who is positive that has a clinical need must be transferred,” Mr Hunt said.

“It’s being done on the basis of the medical advice,” he said.

“We’ve had that agreement now from the Victorian Government.”  

Mr Hunt said one of the main priorities of the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre is to move aged care residents to hospital, and about 414 residents have been transferred so far.   

However, Mr Hunt did not go so far as to say that all aged care residents who test positive for COVID-19 will be sent to hospital, a policy that has been adopted in South Australia and Queensland and backed by Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) and Leading Age Services Australia (LASA).


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