Aged care has emerged as Victoria’s COVID-19 flashpoint, with fears the outbreak will kill more residents in coming days.
Five of Australia’s six deaths on July 27 were linked to Melbourne nursing homes as the national toll rose to 161.
Federal and state health authorities are concerned community transmission of the disease is driving infections among aged care residents and staff.
Health Minister Greg Hunt has asked the aged care quality and safety commissioner to investigate a virus-hit residence in Victoria, after reports of people being left without food and lying in soiled sheets.
Hunt says 79 of 115 residence at St Basil’s Home for the Aged in Fawkner have been transferred, with more expected to be moved on Tuesday.
He’s very cautious over modelling showing Victoria may have reached its peak in cases.
“We hope that, in the coming days or week, we reach that peak, if we haven’t already,” he told the ABC.
“But we won’t count any flattening of the curve until we see a week of sustained lower cases. And at this point, cases have been rising, not falling.”
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd said five percent of all COVID-19 cases in Victoria since April were among aged care residents and four percent among staff.
“The tragedy of COVID-19 is we know with the number of new infections we have seen, there will be many further deaths in the days ahead,” he told reporters in Canberra.
The latest aged care figures show 84 cases linked to St Basil’s, while there are 82 at Estia Health in Ardeer, 77 at Epping Gardens Aged Care and 62 at Essendon’s Menarock Aged Care.
A further 57 cases have been linked to Kirkbrae Presbyterian Homes in Kilsyth and 53 to Glendale Aged Care in Werribee.
The Commonwealth is working with Victorian authorities to transport COVID-19 patients from nursing homes to hospitals.
Infection control in aged care facilities is also being closely monitored while both levels of government are providing personal protective equipment.
Earlier in the pandemic, 19 residents of Sydney’s Newmarch House nursing home died from COVID-19.
Matt Coughlan in Canberra