Coronavirus cases in Victoria’s aged care homes have soared past 450 as health authorities warn more deaths are to be expected.
Victoria recorded 300 new COVID-19 cases on Friday as well as the deaths of seven people, five of them linked to aged care facilities.
A top-level meeting was held with nursing home operators on Friday night, amid growing concern for the health of older Australians during the coronavirus pandemic.
The need for a national response to safeguard elderly Victorians was highlighted after it was revealed eight of the 12 fatalities in the state on Thursday and Friday were aged care residents.
Pictured: Signage at the entrance at the front of the Glendale Aged care facility in Werribee. There are currently 44 COVID-19 cases linked to the facility
Pictured: People are seen wearing masks as they walk along the Morell Bridge in Melbourne on Friday
There are currently 73 infections linked to St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Fawkner, 68 connected to Estia Health in Ardeer and 44 associated to Glendale Aged care facility in Werribee.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) said coronavirus cases were also identified at five new aged case facilities on Friday.
These include: Outlook Gardens aged care facility in Dandenong North; BlueCross Riverlea in Avondale Heights; Villa Maria Catholic Homes St Bernadette’s Aged Care Residence in Sunshine North; Fronditha Care in St Albans; and Japara Yarra West in Yarraville.
On Thursday, the DHHS said there were 447 cases linked to 35 aged care sites that have active cases.
Aged and Community Services Australia chief executive Patricia Sparrow on Friday demanded co-ordinated action to help the almost 1.3 million Victorians receiving care.
Ms Sparrow argued the federal government needed to ‘stop what’s happening’ in Victoria because it could easily happen in another part of the country.
Ms Sparrow also said there was growing concern that they were not going to be able to fill all the shifts needed at aged care centres.
‘It’s getting more difficult to get staff across the board and that’s why we think we need an overall plan,’ she said on Friday.
Pictured: Men in face masks stop for a socially distanced stretch while on the Tan walking track
VICTORIA’S LATEST COVID-19 NUMBERS
VICTORIA’S COVID-19 NUMBERS FOR JULY 24:
* 300 new cases, and the 19th consecutive day of a triple-digit increase
* 3734 active cases across the state
* Seven more deaths, bringing the state’s toll to 56 and the national figure to 140
* Five of Friday’s deaths are connected to aged care. Most deaths in a day for any state
* Four of the latest victims are in their 80s and three are in their 90s
* 206 people in hospital and with 41 in intensive care
* 24,109 tests conducted on Thursday
* Of the new cases, 51 are connected to known outbreaks and 249 are under investigation.
HOSPITALISATIONS BY AGE (AS AT JULY 24):
* Two people aged between five and 19
* Five people aged between 20 and 29, one in ICU
* Seven people aged between 30 and 39, four in ICU
* 11 people aged between 40 and 49, four in ICU
*14 people aged between 50 and 59, 10 in ICU
* 19 people aged between 60 and 69, 13 in ICU
* 30 people aged between 70 and 79, seven in ICU
* 55 people aged between 80 and 89, two in ICU
* 22 people are 90 and above
‘Bringing staff from interstate, or using the military, or using students who have had additional training, we need to make sure that we’ve got staff.’
Ms Sparrow said staff shortages were happening because workers were required to self-isolate while awaiting test results, and the restriction to working at only one site has also affected rostering.
The measure to restrict staff movement between aged care centres has been estimated to affect about 30 per cent of the workforce.
Leading Aged Services Australia, which represents 213 members in Victoria, said there are gaps in government coronavirus supports – including PPE, staffing, transfers and testing.
‘Despite positive recent announcements, there are major issues with the delivery of these measures and other important issues such as the transfer of COVID positive residents have not been adequately addressed,’ LASA’s Acting Chief Advocate Tim Hicks said.
‘Providers are frustrated that they seem to have to work off media statements from governments rather than practical help in the deadly battle with COVID-19.’
There were 3,734 active coronavirus cases across Victoria on Friday.
Melburnians walk along the Yarra River in Melbourne on Friday
Pictured: A general view of the Estia Health aged care facility in Ardeer on Friday. 68 cases have been linked to the facility
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the state’s death toll is expected to climb as the state continues to tally triple-digit infections each day.
‘I’ve always said that when we have hundreds of cases, we can always expect several hundred people to die in the next period,’ he said.
‘I’m very sorry to see that and it is focused in the people who are most vulnerable and we have seen that in the very elderly who have died in the last week.
Professor Sutton warned COVID-19 would not just claim the live’s of elderly Victorians.
‘But with large number of cases there are a number of other people, younger individuals who are hospitalised and they are risk of serious illness as well,’ he said.
‘Some of those people who are in intensive care and on ventilators are younger individuals, so that is an absolute tragedy and of course we are working in whatever way we can to drive those numbers down.’
Victoria recorded 300 new COVID-19 cases on Friday as well as the deaths of seven people, five of them linked to aged care facilities
Asymptomatic Victorians who presented for a coronavirus test on Friday after having close contact with a confirmed infection told The Age they were turned away because they had not been approached by contact tracers.
New directives from the Department of Health and Human Services mean health workers at testing sites can only test asymptomatic residents who present a DHHS letter or text message.
‘The following people are not currently eligible for asymptomatic testing: People living in previously identified ‘hotspot suburbs’ [and] people with letters from their employer, school or community group advising them to get tested,’ the new DHHS guidelines state.
Residents in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire are required to wear face masks
Police and Australian Defence Force staff are seen in Melbourne on Friday
Scott Morrison discussed a potential vaccine with French President Emmanuel Macron overnight and is confident like-minded countries would make it available if one is found.
‘Any country that would hoard a vaccine discovery, I think, would not be met with welcome arms by the rest of the world,’ the prime minister said on Friday.
‘There’s an absolute obligation on whoever finds this to share it with the world.’
Mr Morrison pointed to Australia’s Doherty Institute sharing the first genetic reproduction of the virus with the world as an example.
‘We didn’t sell it, we didn’t restrict it, we shared it. We made sure that everybody could get it and we did it as soon as we found it,’ he said.
‘That’s the attitude, that’s the leadership Australia has shown and that’s what we’d expect from other countries when it comes to a vaccine.’
A woman riding a scooter and wearing a face mask is seen outside Flinders Street station
Pictured: St Basil’s Home for the Aged in Fawkner. There are 73 cases linked to the facility
Tasmania will open its borders to South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory from August 7.
Premier Peter Gutwein said borders with the other mainland states and territories would stay closed because of their higher COVID-19 case numbers.
WA announced on Friday it would delay its phase five reopening plan until August 15.
The announcements come after federal, state, and territory leaders met on Friday amid a rising tide of concern as Victoria scrambles to control the deadly outbreak.
All governments agreed suppression of the virus – meaning zero community transmission – remains the strategic goal.
The national cabinet also agreed to tighten rules on testing truckies and freight movement over concerns drivers exempt from travel restrictions may spread the disease.
Queensland health officials have now moved to reinstate a COVID-19 restriction banning people from standing at a bar or high table to fight against complacency.
Chief Health Officer Jeannette reinstated the social distancing rule banning people from standing at a bar or high table, forcing people to be seated when eating and drinking.
‘I am reimposing that restriction. It starts today,’ she told reporters on Friday.
‘It is a requirement and there will be compliance.’
The ruling means patrons can still order from the bar and the number of people allowed in venues remains the same.
‘People have really got to take this so seriously because we are at a really very difficult stage,’ she said.
‘We have seen what’s happened in Victoria and New South Wales with just a few cases it’s got out of hand, and they are struggling to variable degrees of success to manage.’
73 cases have been linked to St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Fawkner
68 cases have been linked to Estia Health in Ardeer
37 cases have been linked to Arcare Aged Care in Craigieburn
35 cases have been linked to Estia Health in Heidelberg
44 cases have been linked to Glendale Aged care facility in Werribee
20 cases have been linked to Regis Aged Care in Brighton
74 cases have been linked to Somerville Retail Services in Tottenham
62 cases have been linked to JBS in Brooklyn
57 cases have been linked to Bertocchi Smallgoods in Thomastown
43 cases have been linked to Australian Lamb Company in Colac
11 cases have been linked to Respite Services Australia in Moonee Ponds
9 cases have been linked to AMSSA in North Melbourne
6 cases have been linked to the Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre
3 cases have been linked Diamond Valley Pork in Laverton North
3 cases linked to Sims Metal Management in Brooklyn
2 cases have been linked to Don KR Castlemaine
Pictured: A woman goes for a run while wearing a face mask in Melbourne
Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly flagged an announcement in coming days on a better way to co-ordinate action against aged care outbreaks.
‘It’s a real concern,’ he said.
The recession also formed a key plank of the national cabinet meeting after the federal government’s budget update.
Mr Morrison said the focus was on bringing the effective unemployment rate of 11.3 per cent down rather than focusing on the headline jobless rate, which is expected to peak at 9.25 per cent.
Australian Defence Force personnel will doorknock Victorian homes of people who don’t pick up the phone after testing positive for coronavirus.
It’s part of improving the under-pressure contact tracing regime in that state.
There are 3105 ADF members helping with the coronavirus nationally and almost half are in Victoria.
NSW recorded seven new cases on Friday, including six linked to a cluster at an outer Sydney restaurant behind 52 infections.
Queensland had two new cases on Friday, both in hotel quarantine.
The national coronavirus toll rose to 140 after seven deaths were recorded in Victoria on Friday.
Mourners are put on red alert after a woman in her 40s who attended FIVE funerals tests positive to coronavirus
Mourners are warned to look for COVID-19 symptoms after a woman in her 40s attended five funeral and church services before testing positive to the virus.
NSW Health said the Fairfield woman’s positive test result was reported on Thursday.
She attended four different religious venues across Sydney’s south-western suburbs between July 16 and July 19.
The woman was at St Brendan’s Catholic Church in Bankstown for one hour from 6.30pm on Thursday July 16.
Mourners are warned to look for COVID-19 symptoms after a woman in her 40s attended five funeral and church services before testing positive to the virus. The woman visited St Brendan’s Catholic Church in Bankstown (pictured) on two occasions
She then spent seven hours at Ausia Funeral Services in Fairfield East on Friday July 17, between 1pm and 8pm.
The day later she attended a funeral service at St Brendan’s Catholic Church at 10am for one hour before going to a burial service at St John of God Lawn at Rookwood between 11.30 and 1pm.
The woman was then at Our Lady of Mt Carmel at Mt Pritchard for one hour from 7.30am on Sunday July 19.
Mourners who attended the venues over the same time periods are encouraged to look out for coronavirus symptoms.
‘NSW Health and the South Western Sydney Local Health District are urging attendees of the following funeral and other church services to monitor for symptoms,’ a statement read.
‘And if they develop symptoms to self-isolate immediately and get tested.
Pictured: Health workers dress in personal protective equipment to conduct COVID-19 tests in Bondi, Sydney
‘People must remain isolated until they receive their test result.’
NSW Health said contact tracing continues.
Seven new cases of COVID-19 were reported in NSW in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday from a record 36,169 tests, with three people currently in intensive care.
Of the seven, six are associated with the Thai Rock restaurant in south-west Sydney’s Wetherill Park – taking the size of that cluster to 52.
The other case remains under investigation.