This is story was updated on March 6 at 9.45 am
The suspected coronavirus outbreak at a Sydney aged care facility has been confirmed, with one resident dead from the illness – causing staff to collectively walk out, as reported by The Australian.
Meanwhile 15 medical staff from the Mater Hospital Brisbane emergency department have self-quarantined for 14 days after a 20-year-old Chinese student from Toowong presented to the hospital before he was diagnosed on Monday.
NSW health has confirmed the 95-year-old female resident from Sydney’s Dorothy Henderson Lodge at Macquarie Park – a BaptistCare facility – died of COVID-19 and one other resident has been confirmed to have contracted the virus.
An aged care nurse at the facility aged in her 50s was confirmed positive for the virus on Tuesday and is in a stable condition in hospital.
Eleven of the 13 residents she was caring for have been placed in isolation while another resident, an 82-year-old man, was confirmed to have COVID-19.
The NSW chief medical officer Dr Kerry Chant extended her sympathy to the family of the 95-year-old woman, who died on Tuesday.
Dr Chant said the nurse was a much-loved worker at the facility and had worked there for more than two decades.
After news of the outbreak was confirmed by BaptistCare, The Australian reports that aged care staff collectively called in sick, forcing the NSW Health department to step in.
“Just this afternoon, NSW Health has had to agree to fund NSW Health staff into a nursing home that has had some coronavirus issues and its staff have become, for whatever reason, unavailable,” said NSW Health minister Brad Hazzard.
Staff who did go to work at the facility on Wednesday said they were not given any information about what was happening.
Elsewhere, poor performing aged care facilities deemed most at risk of a coronavirus outbreak will be audited by the Aged Care Quality & Safety Commission, commissioner Janet Anderson told senate estimates, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
“In light of the current circumstances, which are rapidly evolving, we intend to go again out to the sector, looking at the regulatory information we have available now,” Ms Anderson said.
The death of the 95-year-old woman has also meant 17 children had to be tested after they visited the Dorothy Henderson Lodge at Sydney's Macquarie Park. Group visits by children to nursing homes have been barred in NSW.
Of the self-quarantined nurses, the Mater hospital said in a statement: "This measure was taken as a precaution in line with Queensland Health recommendations. The safety of our patients and staff members is our highest priority and Mater is complying with all Queensland Health requests. Whilst the actual risk is low, this is a precautionary measure," the hospital said in a statement.
On Thursday morning, the Chinese student's housemate was released from hospital after testing negative. He is now at home and has been advised to self-quarantine.
This outbreak brings the number of cases in NSW to 22, up from 16 cases recorded before Wednesday night.
The six new cases – counting the cases at Dorothy Henderson Lodge – include a female doctor working at Liverpool Hospital, a female patient from the northern beaches, a man from Cronulla and a woman believed to have returned from the Philippines.
The female doctor had no history of overseas travel.
Globally there have been 3198 deaths as of 4 March with 214 outside of China, including the two deaths here in Australia to date. There are now 53 confirmed cases of the virus in Australia.
The Health Services Union has offered to temporarily lift the restriction on conducting home tests to diagnose coronavirus. This would allow potential patients to be diagnosed at home, easing the strain on already clogged emergency departments.
“We are calling on the Treasurer to release an additional $100 million to boost the capacity of the NSW Health system to deal with the strain of the expected pandemic,” the union said in a tweet on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged Australians to exercise common sense and to go about their lives and be alert, but not alarmed, about the virus.Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]