News Coronavirus Aged-care homes locked down as Australia reaches grim milestone with 100th death

Aged-care homes locked down as Australia reaches grim milestone with 100th death

Incidents involving two elderly residents were "the tip of the iceberg", a royal commission has heard. Photo: Getty
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A Queensland nursing home has escaped a major outbreak of the coronavirus as a Sydney facility records its 19th death, and four remain in lockdown in Melbourne.

Authorities feared thousands of coronavirus infections would emerge every day after a nurse who had the virus continued to work at a Queensland nursing home.

Health Minister Stephen Miles has revealed the scale of the emergency authorities were braced for in North Rockhampton.

“We were preparing for thousands of positive cases every day,” he told the ABC on Tuesday.

Two investigations are under way after the nurse kept showing up for work at the North Rockhampton Nursing Centre while she had symptoms and before she received her test results.

Remarkably, none of the hundreds of residents and staff from the centre have returned positive tests since the drama emerged last week, nor has anyone else the nurse had contact with in the community.

Meanwhile, another resident from the ill-fated Newmarch House aged-care home in Penrith in Sydney’s west has died.

Resident Alice Bacon, 93, became the 19th person to die at the aged-care home in Penrith, in western Sydney, and the 100th person to die of COVID-19 in Australia.

In a touching Facebook tribute on Tuesday, her daughter Mary said her “caring and generous” mother tested positive to the coronavirus on day 10 of the Penrith home’s lockdown in April.

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Alice Bacon, 93, was “a happy and busy lady”, her daughter says. Photo: ABC

“We are all devastated by the loss of our mum and she will be greatly missed by us and all those whose lives she touched,” she wrote.

“Mum fought hard to stay with us … but up until two weeks ago she was a happy and busy lady inside and outside of Newmarch,” she said.

Newmarch House’s operator, Anglicare, extended its sympathy to Mrs Bacon’s family in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

“We are devastated at the passing of this well-loved member of the Newmarch House community,” it said.

“We are continuing to provide the best level of care possible to our residents and we appreciate the ongoing support of the Commonwealth and NSW governments.”

Anglicare said there had been no new positive diagnoses of COVID-19 among Newmarch House residents since April 30.

The outbreak at the western Sydney home is the second biggest coronavirus cluster in Australia.

It started after a staff member worked for several days despite showing mild symptoms of the virus.

Across NSW, 3076 people have tested positive to the coronavirus, with two new cases overnight. The state has 416 active cases and 46 people have died.

HammondCare’s new purpose-built care home in Caulfield. Photo: Facebook

In Melbourne, four aged-care homes have gone into lockdown after a resident at each tested positive, then negative, to the coronavirus.

Victoria’s deputy chief health officer Annaliese van Diemen confirmed three aged-care residents had returned positive COVID-19 tests.

Across the state, the total number of cases is 1573, with six more reported on Tuesday. There are 11 people in hospital and 18 people have died.

A resident at Lynden Aged Care at Camberwell, in Melbourne’s east, was diagnosed with the virus while being treated at a city hospital, prompting the facility to shut its doors to visitors on Tuesday.

Close contacts of the infected resident are in quarantine at home, the Department of Health has confirmed.

HammondCare’s Caulfield Village was locked down after a resident in its dementia ward tested positive on Monday. A second swab came back negative on Tuesday.

Dr van Diemen said all positive tests were treated seriously, and the facility was being managed as if it had an outbreak while further testing was done.

“A subsequent negative test doesn’t negate the first positive test,” she said on Tuesday.

HammondCare senior nurse Angela Raguz said the facility’s priority was to care for the resident and protect 11 others in the dementia ward.

“While awaiting final results, we are working closely with the Victorian Health Department to care for all residents in the care home and to contain the infection [if confirmed],” she said.

A family visit is not believed to be the source of the possible infection, Ms Raguz said.

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Villa Maria Aged Care Home was placed in lockdown after a resident’s inconclusive COVID-19 test. Photo: VMCH

It follows a similar situation at the Villa Maria Aged Care Home at Bundoora, in Melbourne’s north.

A resident who was taken to hospital at the weekend with a fever returned an inconclusive COVID-19 result.

A subsequent test showed the resident did not have the virus.

The facility is in lockdown and the resident is isolating in their room as they await the result of two more tests.

Residents and staff at all three homes will be tested for the virus and contract tracing is under way.

Meanwhile, a resident at MiCare at Kilsyth has been tested for the coronavirus after showing symptoms, the facility’s chief executive Petra Neeleman said.

The nursing home is also in lockdown as it awaits the results.

Cedar Meats not out of the woods

A new case has been linked to the Cedar Meats outbreak in Melbourne’s west, with the total number in the cluster hitting 100.

One case of a returned traveller in hotel quarantine and three other cases are under investigation.

Authorities have also removed one case from the overall tally after reclassification.

-with AAP