Victoria’s coronavirus outbreaks are “spilling over” into aged care, with “disturbing” numbers emerging in its second wave.
Of the state’s 4542 total active coronavirus cases, 683 are connected to aged care. Five of the six latest deaths were also in aged care.
Chief health officer Dr Brett Sutton said there were 84 cases linked to St Basil’s Home for the Aged in Fawkner, 82 in Estia Healthcare, 77 in Epping Gardens Aged Care Facility, 62 in Menarock Life in Essendon, 53 in Glendale Aged Care in Werribee, 57 in Kirkbrae Presbyterian Homes in Kilsyth and 50 in Estia Health Heidelberg.
“It’s hard to read these out without considering the residents in these facilities will be people’s parents, grandparents, great grandparents and they are at significant risk of dying,” he said.
“That’s an inescapable fact in these settings. Where there are outbreaks in aged care, the mortality is extremely high.”
Dr Sutton said in European outbreaks deaths in aged care made up almost half of totals.
“These are a critical areas to prevent introduction of the virus in the very first place,” he said
“That is a critical element. That means not going to work with any symptoms whatsoever.
“I understand that there’ll be people who’ll turn up and who will develop symptoms while they’re at work.
“That’s where mask-wearing comes into place, not only in aged care, but all the settings we have been talking about. Indeed all settings across Victoria.”
Dr Sutton said masks were particularly useful in the couple of days before someone developed symptoms in preventing transmission.
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Premier Daniel Andrews said more people would die, particularly in aged care, if people continued to go to work when ill.
“We continue to see, particularly in aged care, far too many people in that setting and in other settings,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter what you do for a job, doesn’t matter what industry, what sector you work in — if you are going to work with symptoms, if you’re going to work when you’re sick, then you will inevitably be spreading this virus.
“This is the biggest driver, it’s not the only issue, but it is the biggest driver of transmission. “It is the biggest driver of these numbers going up rather than going down. So my message, my request, my plea to all Victorians, particularly those in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, but this does apply to every single Victorian regardless of their workplace, if you are sick, even mildly, you just can’t go to work.”
A Melbourne GP told the Today show this morning the state was “on the brink of a complete disaster” in aged care.
She said she was horrified by the lack of information given by the health department to doctors working in aged care facilities on the frontline.
“We need clear guidelines for the Victorian public health unit for the GPs working in aged care,” she said anonymously.
“What our role is and who we can get help from.”