COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne affects aged care homes

Sydney, Australia, Aug 4 (efe-epa) – The COVID-19 outbreak in the Australian city of Melbourne claimed the lives of 11 residents in the last 24 hours in aged care homes, where some 1,200 active cases have been recorded.

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews had said on Monday that 439 new infections have been recorded, bringing the total number of cases in the region to 12,376 out of the nearly 18,800 confirmed cases in Australia since the start of the epidemic.

He also clarified that the 11 deaths “are connected to aged care settings”, which have become hotbeds for COVID-19 infection, especially St Basil’s Home in Melbourne, where more than 100 cases have been recorded and all of its staff quarantined for the first time in Australia.

“More broadly, on that front, there are 1,186 active cases in aged care. That remains a very challenging setting for us (…) with the private sector, public hospitals, private hospitals, literally hundreds and-ups of shifts that have been picked up by nurses out of our hospital system, a large team of people working together to provide the best care to those residents and get them what they need when they need it,” Andrews added.

The aged care sector mainly employs women, including immigrants and short-term visa holders who have been briefly trained, with temporary contracts and low pay, which often forces them to work in two centers.

Last week, Andrews had said “I wouldn’t want my mum in some of those places” in reference to the care homes, which began to be investigated by a government commission that is due to hand over its final report in February 2021, following several reports of the ill-treatment and precarious situation of residents.

In the face of this precarious employment situation, which is believed to have contributed to the spread of the virus, the Australian government on Monday announced a fortnightly “pandemic leave disaster payment” of about $1,068 for COVID-positive workers without sick leave who need to self-isolate.

Melbourne, which is the capital of Victoria state and has five million inhabitants, was placed under a six-week lockdown on July 9 to try to control the COVID-19 outbreak in the city, which is attributed to security breaches in the quarantine of international travelers.

Following high local transmission and an increase in cases of unknown origin, Andrews on Sunday declared a night-time curfew in Melbourne as well as a state of disaster throughout the state to confer more powers on the police.

To strengthen compliance with the restrictions, Andrews announced Tuesday that more than 500 soldiers are being deployed in Melbourne to enforce stay-at-home orders after 800 out of 3,000 people who were to remain under quarantine were found to have flouted the rules and added that heavy fines would be imposed on them if they breached the orders again. EFE-EPA


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