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An aerial view of Newmarch House. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

New COVID-19 cases at Newmarch

The operator of a Sydney aged care home at the centre of a COVID-19 outbreak has acknowledged that it’s been under extreme pressure as more residents test positive to the disease.

“The reasons for [the additional cases] are still being investigated, and we are working closely with the NSW public health unit and an infectious diseases specialist,” Anglicare said in a statement on Thursday evening.

There have been 14 COVID-19 related deaths at the aged care home where 37 residents and 26 staff members have tested positive to the coronavirus.

About 80 residents are still living at the home near Penrith.

The provider this week announced that staff would be tested daily for infection.

Newmarch House has been criticised by the relatives of those living in the home over a lack of communication from the facility.

Anglicare chief executive Grant Millard on Thursday acknowledged that “to an extent this is true”.

“We have been under extreme pressure,” he said in a statement.

“To maintain social isolation while providing care, it takes our staff at least five times as long to undertake a simple task like giving a COVID-19 resident a phone to make a phone call because of the need to put on and take off the PPE and clean up.”

Residents have been isolated since the outbreak on April 11, with the facility on Thursday saying it has arranged for some family members to visit and talk to their relatives through windows.

Millard said that since the outbreak, they have been sending a daily email to the families of residents at the home.

For residents infected with coronavirus, the facility has been in phone contact at least once a day with the resident’s chosen family representative, he added.

“It is very hard, we know, when others in the families are worried about the health of their mother or father, but unfortunately, we can only communicate directly with the persons that our residents, or in some circumstances their guardians, have approved,” he said.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she desperately wanted to see improved communications at the facility.

“Anyone who runs an aged care facility at this time has to step up and have a very compassionate and respectful response to families and residents,” she said on Thursday.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, has announced that the federal Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is looking into the situation at Newmarch House.

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