A family says it was the forced social isolation that led to the death of their 92-year-old relative who contracted coronavirus in Sydney’s Newmarch House.
Great-grandmother Fay Rendoth tested positive three weeks ago but her granddaughter said it was loneliness she couldn’t recover from.
“It was the confinement in her room and the by-product of COVID-19 social physical isolation that had detrimental impacts on her health and led to her passing,” Savannah Robinson said.
Newmarch House operator Anglicare said Ms Rendoth dies on Friday night and all relevant authorities were contacted.
“We are devastated at the passing and extend our deepest sympathies to the family as they grieve the loss of their loved one,” a spokesperson for Anglicare said.
There have been 69 COVID-19 cases linked to the aged care home, including 32 staff and 37 residents.
In the past 24 hours, NSW recorded five new cases of coronavirus out of a record 13,692 tests.
Of the five new cases, one person was exposed to the virus while overseas, two were close contacts of known cases and two were under investigation.
To date, 294,949 people have been tested in NSW, 3,052 have been positive for COVID-19 and 82 per cent of those are now fully recovered.
Newmarch House has become Australia’s second-biggest COVID-19 cluster after a staff member unintentionally started an outbreak by working six shifts with mild symptoms.
NSW Health’s Jeremy McAnulty said the infectious disease specialist at Newmarch House reported that Ms Rendoth had recovered from COVID-19.
“The doctor believes [her death] was not directly related to COVID,” he said.
Dr McAnulty would not be drawn on whether the virus had contributed to her death, but said it impacted general stamina and the ability to fight off other illnesses.
Ms Robinson said her grandmother’s body slowly shut down and she had been under palliative care for the past week.
“Maybe Nan recovered from COVID-19, but she didn’t recover from the isolation,” she said.
“It was heartbreaking to not be able to sit by her side in her final days, and be with her and speak to her.
“That’s the toughest part of this situation, and the hardest part of this virus is that it’s so isolating.”
Ms Rendoth leaves behind three daughters, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Ms Robinson said she was somewhat comforted that her grandmother would no longer be missing her husband of more than 70 years, Ken, who died five years ago.
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She said Ms Rendoth was very family-focused and raised her family in the Blue Mountains before moving into Newmarch House.
“She was very sharp and quite well for her age,” she said.
“We don’t want my grandmother to be another COVID-19 statistic, there is a person and a family behind the news.”
Ms Rendoth said she was grateful to the staff who were working tirelessly at Newmarch, some of whom were working 12-hour shifts.
“We know people sat with her and sang to her, read the bible to her. That brings you some comfort.”
Ahead of Mother’s Day tomorrow, Health Minister Brad Hazzard said social-distancing was a must for any face-to-face gatherings.
“It’s really tough not to hug or kiss your mum, but it’s the wisest course,” he said.
Mr Hazzard also announced $12.7 million in funding so medical students could be elevated to positions of assistant in medicine to prepare for any outbreaks that may emerge as restrictions lift.
Last week the NSW Government relaxed rules around house visits but the Premier has ruled out any further changes this coming week.