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COVID in aged care: Staff shortage fears as coronavirus deaths mount

As coronavirus cases at aged care facilities mount, there are concerns about further nursing home deaths and staff shortages as workers become ill or are exposed to coronavirus.

Three of the five new coronavirus deaths recorded in Victoria overnight were aged care residents.

A man in his 70s, a woman in her 80s and a man in his 90s died with coronavirus which was linked to nursing home outbreaks.

It comes after two aged care deaths — both men in their 90s — were recorded on Wednesday.

Coronavirus clusters are also growing rapidly at a number of aged care homes.

A total of 447 COVID-19 cases have been linked to nursing homes, an increase of 64 from yesterday.

There are currently active cases in 35 aged care facilities across the state.

As the clusters grow, a large number of workers are contracting coronavirus, or being forced to self isolate after exposure to the virus.

All of the staff at St Basil’s Home for the Aged in Fawkner, the nursing home with the largest COVID-19 outbreak, have been ordered to go into isolation.

Professor Joseph Ibrahim, from the Health Law and Ageing Research Unit at the Department of Forensic Medicine at Monash University, said he’s “hopeful” staff shortages won’t become a serious issue.

“I’d be hopeful that, given the number of people that are now unemployed, we would be able to train and have people step up to help,” he told Tom Elliott.

But Professor Ibrahim expressed concern about the capability of aged care workers to handle coronavirus outbreaks.

“They’re essentially personal care workers with limited training,” he said.

“They’re not nurses and for us to expect them to step up into a really difficult environment and have meticulous attention to infection control is really more hopeful than is realistic.”

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AGED CARE OUTBREAKS WHICH GREW IN THE PAST 24 HOURS:

  • 73 cases have been linked to St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Fawkner
  • 67 cases have been linked to Estia Health in Ardeer
  • 55 cases have been linked to Menarock Life Aged care in Essendon
  • 34 cases have been linked to Estia Health in Heidelberg
  • 33 cases have been linked to Arcare Aged Care in Craigieburn
  • 21 cases have been linked to Baptcare Wyndham Lodge in Werribee
  • 20 cases have been linked to Embracia Aged Care Moonee Valley in Avondale Heights
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