Two more staff at the coronavirus-hit Newmarch House have tested positive for COVID-19, with the operator of the western Sydney aged-care home warned it could lose its approved aged-care provider status.
NSW had three new coronavirus cases from 10,900 tests on Thursday, two of which were from enhanced screening provisions at Newmarch House.
The aged-care home’s operator, Anglicare, said it would appoint an external adviser, to help meet its regulatory obligations amid the devastating coronavirus toll at the facility.
“Anglicare will be making this appointment today. The new adviser will be appointed by Anglicare for a period of three months,” it said on Thursday.
Anglicare said it was confident issues at the home would be resolved swiftly, with the support of the adviser and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
The operator also reassured residents and families that the additional expertise would help it get through a “very difficult time”.
“All our energy and focus is dedicated to containing the spread and the impact of this devastating virus,” it said.
It comes after the commission wrote to Anglicare on Wednesday, threatening to revoke its licence, arguing there was “an immediate and severe risk to the health, safety and wellbeing of care recipients” at Newmarch House.
Sixteen residents have so far died from the coronavirus at the Caddens facility. Dozens more residents and staff remain infected.
The commission demanded Anglicare agree to several conditions, including admitting no new residents “until it can demonstrate … that the serious risk to care recipients at the service has been effectively addressed”.
The royal commission into aged care will also look at the impact of coronavirus on aged care and the COVID-19 deaths at other nursing homes.
On Thursday, federal Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck said 25 aged-care homes across Australia had recorded COVID-19 cases and most had managed well.
Among them are two Victorian homes – one in Melbourne’s inner-west and another north-west of the city – that went into lockdown this week after staff members tested positive to the virus.
“If [the royal commission is] only looking at Newmarch, they’re not doing a service to the aged-care sector because I think that across the board they’ve done quite well,” Senator Colbeck told Sky News.
On Thursday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian reiterated that an increase in COVID-19 cases was likely with the easing of restrictions, and urged residents to maintain social distancing and seek testing, even with mild respiratory symptoms.
She also said there would be no further easing of coronavirus restrictions in NSW before Mother’s Day, even if Friday’s National Cabinet recommended relaxing some measures.
“I want to manage expectations and say that even if National Cabinet does suggest easing rejections, they won’t be able to be made in time for Mother’s Day,” she said.
“Having said that, please know that two adults and children can visit at any one time, and a mother can accept multiple visits per day.”
But Ms Berejiklian said life in NSW would return to something resembling normal by the end of June.
NSW has 3045 cases of coronavirus, with more than 10 people in intensive care.