A 16th resident has died of the coronavirus at Sydney’s troubled Newmarch House, just hours after three more workers were diagnosed with the virus.
The aged-care home’s operator, Anglicare, revealed the death in a statement late on Tuesday afternoon.
“Anglicare Sydney is deeply saddened to announce that a resident at Newmarch House who had tested positive for COVID-19 has passed away this morning,” it said.
“The family has been contacted and all relevant authorities have been notified. We extend our sincere condolences to the family for whom this is both distressing and tragic.”
The death of the resident at the western Sydney home brings Australia’s national coronavirus toll to 97.
Anglicare, which said the COVID-19 outbreak was having a devastating effect on the Newmarch’s staff, residents and families, did not reveal any more details about the resident.
But it said the virus’s incredibly contagious nature was shown by three staff testing positive in the past 24 hours.
NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant confirmed infections in two more workers at the western Sydney aged-care home on Tuesday.
Anglicare confirmed the third case. That employee had worked solely in the Caddens facility’s coronavirus-positive ward.
Anglicare said it had asked healthcare contractor Aspen Medical to stand down one of its staff at the home, amid allegations of breaches of infection control.
An Anglicare spokesperson said the breach was in relation to personal protective equipment protocol.
“We take our PPE protocols seriously. It’s vital to protect those we’re caring for from this terrible virus,” they said.
“It is our understanding that this staff member was asymptomatic … they are now self-isolating.”
Some 37 of about 100 Newmarch House residents have tested positive to the virus. There are more infections among employees.
“Two new cases were from staff members at Newmarch House and detected as part of the screening process that has been put in place,” Dr Chant said on Tuesday.
Staff at Newmarch are being tested for the virus daily, to try to manage Australia’s second deadliest coronavirus outbreak after the cruise ship Ruby Princess.
“It’s quite challenging to wear full [personal protective equipment] and interact with patients,” she told the ABC.
“It’s not a controlled environment … in the end we want care and compassion for those [residents].”
NSW has recorded 3035 COVID-19 cases, with 13 in intensive care.
Infections spike in Victorian cluster
Victoria has 11 new cases in a growing coronavirus cluster at a meat works in Melbourne’s west.
Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas confirmed on Tuesday that there were 45 coronavirus cases centred on the Cedar Meats abattoir in the Melbourne suburb of Brooklyn.
The 11 cases are among a Victorian total of 17 reported on Tuesday.
Both the company and Victoria’s chief health officer have assured the public the meat from the factory is safe to eat.
All 350 of Cedar Meats’ onsite staff had been tested for COVID-19 by May 1.
The latest cases brought Victoria’s virus tally to 1423 on Tuesday morning.
Teacher denied tests
Elsewhere, a coronavirus-infected teacher who led to the shutdown of a Melbourne school said he was rejected for testing three times.
Keith Campbell believes he had the virus back in March, but attempts to get tested were repeatedly denied because he did not meet the box-ticking criteria.
“I wasn’t severe enough to obviously warrant a test, basically that was it,” he told Nine’s Today program on Tuesday.
“I tried three times, twice through the hospital and then the [Department of Health and Human Services].”
Mr Campbell said he did not blame the health staff who denied him the test, as they were just doing their job with the tools given to them.
He believes he caught the deadly virus back in mid-March at a bar, along with other members of his family, including his nine-year-old granddaughter.
By the time he was tested, the coronavirus cells in his nasal passage were dead, but it was enough for authorities to shut down Meadowglen Primary School at Epping, where he worked not in contact with children for two days to record video lessons.
“The school did everything possible,” Mr Campbell said.
“There were only two people that were with me and they’ve since been checked out and found to be negative, so there was no problem.”
The state government named the school on Sunday, soon after federal Education Minister Dan Tehan launched an attack on Premier Daniel Andrews over his refusal to open schools.
Mr Tehan withdrew his comments later that same day.
Victoria is on track to achieve 100,000 tests by May 11 with 55,000 people tested so far, including 13,000 on Sunday alone.
Whether Victoria will follow other states and lift restrictions after May 11 will depend heavily on the results of the blitz testing.