Army medics sent into Victoria's coronavirus-stricken aged care facilities amid staff shortages

Hospital staff and army medics are being sent into Victoria's aged care facilities as part of efforts to contain growing coronavirus outbreaks.

ADF staff arrive at Epping Gardens Aged Care Facility in Epping, Melbourne, Tuesday, 28 July, 2020.

ADF staff arrive at Epping Gardens Aged Care Facility in Epping, Melbourne, Tuesday, 28 July, 2020. Source: AAP

Hospital staff and Australian Defence Force medics are being sent into Victoria's coronavirus-stricken aged care facilities, as deaths mount.

Staff shortages due to isolation orders is being partly blamed for the deadly situation, with Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth telling Nine senior nurses and managers had to avoid work because of coronavirus contacts.

"No business in Australia has a business continuity plan that accounts for their entire workforce not being able to go to work," he said on Wednesday.

"I think in a lot of ways that has led some of the most affected institutions to where they are now."

A resident is taken away in an ambulance from Epping Gardens Aged Care Facility in Epping, Melbourne, Tuesday, 28 July, 2020.
Source: AAP

On Wednesday, Victoria recorded another nine deaths and 295 new coronavirus cases.

Seven of the nine deaths announced were linked to aged care settings, bringing the state's toll from the virus to 92 and the national toll to 176.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the new deaths were two people in their 90s, five in their 80s, one in their 70s and another aged in their 60s. 

There are now 804 active cases of COVID-19 connected to Victoria's aged care sector, both staff and residents.

Prime Minister says Victorian aged care breakout is very distressing

Mr Andrews on Tuesday announced elective surgeries would be suspended in metropolitan Melbourne, except for category one and the most urgent category two procedures.

He said the move would free up hospital beds to treat residents and allow health workers to go into aged care homes to cope with the staff shortages.

He said it would also allow staff to provide care and support to the most vulnerable residents in and coming out of private sector aged care, noting resident transfers would be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Family members of residents are seen outside Epping Gardens Aged Care Facility in Epping, Melbourne, Tuesday, 28 July, 2020.
Source: AAP

The premier told reporters he would not want in his mother in some of the federally regulated homes, prompting an emotional defence of carers and nurses from federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.

Outbreaks at meatworks across Melbourne have also increased, with 99 cases linked to Somerville Meats Retail Services in Tottenham and 89 associated with Bertocchi Smallgoods in Thomastown.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said there was some good news regarding an outbreak at the Royal Children's Hospital neonatal intensive care unit, where a baby, two parents and a health care worker tested positive on Monday.

She said all other babies in the unit had tested negative, with just one result pending.

Residents in metropolitan Melbourne are subject to stay-at-home orders and can only leave home for essential work, study, exercise or care responsibilities. It is also mandatory to wear masks in public.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus 


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Published 29 July 2020 at 8:56am, updated 29 July 2020 at 12:59pm
Source: AAP -SBS