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Nearly 500 aged care facilities in Australia are currently affected by COVID-19 exposures, placing tens of thousands of elderly residents in lockdown.
According to data released by the federal government, which had not been reported for the past fortnight, there were 495 active outbreaks in residential aged care facilities on Friday, up from 105 on December 23.
Nearly 500 aged care facilities are currently affected by COVID-19 outbreaks.Credit:Alamy
There were 1370 active cases in aged care residents across the country and 1835 in staff.
The industry has warned critical staff shortages are placing the wellbeing of residents at risk, with high rates of COVID-19 in the community hitting both centre employees and the agency workforce.
Last week, federal health authorities recommended aged care staff were returned to work after a close contact exposure (at work or in their household) if their absence would have a high impact on the facility’s operation.
Addressing the new recommendations earlier this week, federal Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said there was need to move from a “no tolerance approach” to a “risk-based approach” in managing aged care.
Facilities in NSW have recorded the highest number of cases. In outbreaks considered active on Friday, 641 residents and 762 staff in the state had tested positive.
In Victoria, there were 395 resident cases and 446 staff cases associated with active virus outbreaks in aged care. There were 152 resident and 320 staff cases in Queensland and 258 resident and 307 staff cases in South Australia.
Over the past fortnight, the number of active cases in residents has increased nearly sevenfold. The number of staff with the virus has increased almost tenfold.
The largest active outbreak was at Uniting’s Lilian Wells aged care home at North Parramatta, in Sydney’s west, where a total of 57 residents and 20 staff have tested positive and two residents have died. At Opal’s Bossley Parkside Care Community, in the city’s south-west, 50 residents and 15 staff were cases.
In Victoria, the largest active outbreak was at BlueCross Elly Kat at Mordialloc, in Melbourne’s south-east, where 40 residents and 12 staff tested positive. Four residents at the facility have died.
Some of the reported data appears to be an underestimate. For example, the figure given for Bupa’s Clemton Park facility, in Sydney’s south-west, is only two residents and one staff member, but the operator told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age there were 38 positive residents and 25 staff members on Wednesday.
Twelve aged care residents have died from COVID-19 since January 1. There were 227 virus deaths in aged care between July and December 2021.
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