Aged Care Crisis in Victoria Sparks Federal Response

By AAP
July 29, 2020 Updated: July 29, 2020

Disaster medical teams and the military will attack Victoria’s coronavirus crisis as disease-stricken nursing homes move to a hospital footing.

The federal government is ramping up resources for the private sector it regulates as the aged care death toll continues to rise.

Australia’s COVID-19 toll rose to 176 on Wednesday after nine more deaths in Victoria.

Seven of the fatalities are linked to private aged care facilities in the state, which are now tied to 46 deaths.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said 440 residents have been infected with more than 40 in intensive care. More deaths are expected.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the vast majority of the aged care system had avoided the worst of the crisis.

“We have seen some very distressing and concerning situations arise in a handful of those facilities,” he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

He said facilities in the most concerning situations were no longer operating as normal aged care homes.

“They have moved effectively into an in-patient care type facility, akin to what you would see in a hospital,” Morrison said.

Scores of residents have been moved to hospitals where beds have been freed up by the Victorian government’s decision to restrict elective surgeries.

Around 150,000 aged care workers will receive a refresher course in infection control through the Victorian aged care response centre.

The Australian Defence Force staffed a night shift at Epping Gardens, one of the worst-affected facilities, after stood-down workers were quarantined.

ADF members also will help doorknock everyone who tests positive to the virus after checks found 29 people from 500 visits weren’t home.

The first of five Australian Medical Assistance Teams, which provide disaster relief in critical health situations, will arrive in Melbourne on Thursday.

Victoria recorded 295 new cases on Wednesday.

NSW health authorities fear a spike in disease clusters after cases spread to Sydney’s densely populated eastern suburbs.

There were 19 new cases in Australia’s most populous state with just two in hotel quarantine.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will ban all visitors from Sydney from Saturday after two teenagers with coronavirus dodged quarantine.

The two 19-year-olds travelled to Brisbane from Melbourne via Sydney and are under investigation for allegedly giving false information on border declarations.

South Australia has imposed tougher border controls with Victoria, meaning residents can no longer return and tighter limits for towns near the edge of the two states.

The prime minister and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews have also played down suggestions of a federal-state rift over the aged care crisis.

WA recorded two new cases, both returned travellers.

By Matt Coughlan in Canberra