Ten aged care residents and seven staff have tested positive to coronavirus across six different homes in NSW, Western Australia and South Australia.
Federal Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck revealed the tally in Senate question time on Monday.
This is on top of the outbreak at a Sydney aged care facility earlier this month, which saw 11 residents quarantined, three of whom later died.
“I can’t give you a specific number of how many aged care workers have been tested or for that matter how many residents have been tested,” he told parliament.
“Those that have needed a test have received a test.”
He said people needed to limit their visits to aged care homes.
“It’s a really tough message to tell people to limit visiting their loved ones in aged care facilities, but it’s everybody’s job to keep our senior Australians safe,” the minister said.
Last week the PM announced that aged care facilities nationwide would be subject to restrictions on all non-essential entries and a limit on visitors to residents to two per day.
Senator Colbeck said from May 1, anyone not vaccinated for influenza would be banned from entering aged care facilities.
“This is a very difficult time for people in aged care and their families,” he said.
Three of Australia’s 11 coronavirus deaths have been residents of BaptistCare’s Dorothy Henderson Lodge in Sydney.
The government has broadened testing criteria, meaning more Australians can now be screened.
Anyone with a fever or acute respiratory infection who works in health care or aged care can now be tested for the virus.
So too can people living in areas with an elevated risk of community transmission, or where there are two or more plausibly linked cases.
This takes in aged and residential care, rural and remote Aboriginal communities, detention centres, boarding schools, and military bases that have live-in accommodation.
All non-urgent elective surgery has been put on indefinite hold in a bid to free up capacity across the hospital system.
Elsewhere, authorities in Spain confirmed that the military have found nursing home residents dead and abandoned as their coronavirus crisis worsens.
The military were called to help disinfect areas when they came upon the home and Defence Minister Margarita Robles told broadcaster Telecinco: “The army, during certain visits, found some older people completely abandoned, sometimes even dead in their beds,” as reported by the BBC.
“The full weight of the law will be brought to bear on those who don’t fulfil their obligations,” Robles said of the nursing home deaths.
Spain is the worst affected country in Europe behind Italy and politicians in Madrid have admitted 20 per cent of its elderly care homes have confirmed cases of the virus. The number of cases climbed by 6500 in the past 24 hours to 40,000 and of those 5400 were medical staff, a figure representing 13 per cent of total cases
Spanish authorities hope the country will reach the peak of the outbreak this week, which would mean that wide-reaching limitations on freedom of movement for 47 million residents had begun to take effect.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will on Wednesday ask parliament to approve an extension of Spain’s state of emergency for another two weeks until April 11.
In the US, authorities say there are 147 nursing homes across 27 states that have at least one resident with the coronavirus, as reported by CNBC.Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]