A 15th resident of a Sydney aged care home has died after testing positive to coronavirus, taking the NSW total to 45 and the national toll to 96.
The man had no immediate family and was well cared for by staff at Newmarch House in Caddens, home operator Anglicare said on Monday afternoon.
“On behalf of our resident, we grieve for his death and we value that he was part of our Anglicare family while we cared for them,” a spokesman said in a statement.
“His passing highlights how terrible this virus is and how devastating it is for the elderly in our community.”
A daily testing regime has been established for staff at the nursing home, to manage what is Australia’s second deadliest outbreak after the cruise ship Ruby Princess.
Since April 11, some 26 staff and 37 of the 100 residents have tested positive to the virus.
Health Services Union NSW general secretary Gerard Hayes on Monday said it shouldn’t have taken the deaths of so many residents to introduce daily staff testing.
Testing should have been performed “across the board” two months ago when there was an outbreak at northwest Sydney aged care home Dorothy Henderson Lodge, he said.
“We know aged care is such a vulnerable sector of the community and it should have been done from day one,” Mr Hayes told ABC radio on Monday.
Federal Labor on Monday called for the aged care royal commission to lead the investigation into “what went wrong” at Newmarch.
“It is vitally important workers and providers are supported to ensure that we limit the transmission of COVID-19 in aged care,” opposition ageing spokeswoman Julie Collins said in a statement.
NSW Health is running the testing at Newmarch House while the federal government has helped place an infection control specialist, who is monitoring and reviewing all current contamination and infection control procedures at the home.
“We continue to be grateful for the support from the Commonwealth and NSW governments,” an Anglicare spokesman told AAP on Monday.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said over the weekend he was “quite satisfied” Anglicare was doing everything it could to halt the virus.
Investigations are underway into the source or sources of the outbreak and whether the latest two staff to catch the virus did so from outside.
Anglicare says the two staff were experienced in infectious disease situations.
NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said genomic sequencing had so far shown the virus in the nursing home was the strain in the broader Penrith area and had linkages with “a number of other clusters”.
The department is open to the possibility the strain in Newmarch didn’t come solely via the first known case – a nurse who worked at the facility for six days with mild symptoms.
“What we’re trying to do is identify the index case … and that requires going through all the medical records, reinterviewing staff, trying to find any other chains,” Dr Chant told reporters on Monday.
“Sometimes – I’ve got to be honest – we don’t actually find that first case in.”