Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews said there were 532 new cases of COVID-19 and six deaths overnight on Monday, 27 July.
Five of the six deaths were connected to outbreaks in aged care.The deaths over the last 24 hours concerned a woman in her 90s, a man and a woman in their eighties, a man and a woman in their 70s and a man in his 50s.
Victoria currently has 4,542 total active cases of which 683 active cases are connected in some way to aged care.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said that the outbreak was at a “challenging stage” with main areas of transmission at workplaces, “mostly essential workplaces” and so it is spilling into aged care facilities.
“The aged care outbreaks are absolutely a consequence of community transmission, but they represent a tragedy for the families involved for some private aged care facilities, the numbers are disturbing,” he said, pointing to 84 cases connected to St Basil’s home for the aged in Fawkner, 82 at Estia aged care, 77 at Epping Gardens aged care in Epping, 62 in Menarock life aged care in Essendon, 53 at Glenndale aged care in Werribee, 57 in Kirk Bray presbyterian homes in Kilsyth and 50 in Estia aged care in Heidelberg.
Professor Sutton said that residents at these facilities are “at significant risk of dying”.
“That’s an inescapable fact in these settings. Where there are outbreaks in aged care, the mortality is extremely high,” he said, urging people at such facilities not to go to work if they have symptoms.
Going to work
Victoria’s premier warned the lockdown in Melbourne would continue for as long as people continue to go to work with COVID-19 symptoms. “The key message today for every single Victorian, regardless of where they work and regardless of where they live, you simply can’t go to work if you have symptoms,” he said.
“You can’t go to work if you feel sick even mildly. You got to come forward and get tested.”
He said that people are going to work regardless of symptoms and “this is the biggest driver of transmission.”
Victoria’s Deputy Chief Medical officer Nick Coatsworth had said that case numbers should have come down by now, three weeks following the start of a six-week lockdown.
Speaking to 9 News he warned that the virus is “deeply embedded” within Vicotira’s community.
Today is the first day that numbers in Victoria were recorded over 500 at a time when hundreds of Victorian aged care residents and staff are under threat. The previous record was 484 new cases last Wednesday.
St Basil’s battles on
St Basil’s Home for the Aged in Fawkner has been struck hard by the virus with 84 infections at the moment, whereas Estia Health in Ardeer has recorded 82 cases.
The Federal government has taken over St Basil’s in order to bring the deadly situation under control, and a call centre for families has been set up however many of the families which Neos Kosmos spoke to say that information from the provider has been lacking and inaccurate.
Nicholas Barboussas was told by St Basil’s that his father was in the home and doing well, when he was at Northern Hospital fighting for his life.
“Since management changed temporarily, the situation has been tragic. We could not communicate with our parents,” Mr Barbousas told Neos Kosmos.
“Imagine… my father was fighting for his life in hospital and I received a phone-call from the nursing home notifying me he was in his room at St. Basil’s. When I asked the call-centre they told me he was in… Adelaide”.
Other families stated they had the same problem.
“We understand the emotional impact the situation is having on residents, staff and families,” Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck said in a statement.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on aged care
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the outbreak in aged care in Melbourne had grown and affects 71 residential and non-residental aged care facilities.
“It is important to understand that the challenges, and they are significant in the aged care sector, are a reminder that when community transmission occurs with COVID-19, the aged care sector will all be impacted. That is certainly the experience we have seen in other countries. When you have problems in aged care, it is a function of the community transmission,” he said on Monday.
“All of this is incredibly important because when community transmission takes place, it is inevitable that it will find its way into the poor vulnerable parts of our community, in the aged care community is certainly one of those.”
The Prime Minister said that one of the key things currently being done is the transfer of people who have contracted COVID-19 into aged care facilities. “We are making use of the private hospital as agreement that we put in place some months ago to free up beds in the private hospital area so we can transfer people out of those facilities into those beds, and we are working closely with the Victorian state government about that process,” he said, however officials and relatives of Neos Kosmos have said this is not happening.
Premier Andrews said that not every single patient will be taken to hospital. “There’s capacity for us, it’s not a function whether there’s capacity or not, it’s a function of the individual decisions that treating doctors make both about the infection, prevention and control risks in a given aged care setting, and also the clinical circumstances of that patient,” he said. “Any sense that any private sector aged care facility has not got what they need, I’m more than happen you to follow that up. There are meetings, multiple meetings, each day to check on progress that we are making.”