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Brendan Murphy during a press conference in Parliament House, Canberra. Photo: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage

Ten more virus aged care deaths, as 87 homes deal with outbreaks

Australia has recorded its deadliest day in the COVID-19 pandemic, with 13 more deaths from the virus.

There were 723 new cases in Victoria.

Ten of the 13 deaths were linked to nursing homes as the number of those facing outbreaks continues to near the triple digits.

As of Wednesday, the government was keeping a close eye on 13 facilities in particular, many of which have more than 20 cases.

By yesterday evening, there were 474 residents and clients who were COVID-positive across residential aged care and home care, and 419 staff. That number is likely to have risen.

Former chief medical officer Brendan Murphy, now secretary of the federal Department of Health, said there will be more deaths across aged care.

“There will be more deaths with the number of aged care recipients that are infected,” Murphy said. “We know that; it is a certainty. We will see deaths every day and that is a tragedy.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said facilities in the most concerning situations were no longer operating as normal aged care homes.

“They have moved effectively into an in-patient care type facility, akin to what you would see in a hospital,” Morrison said.

Scores of residents have been moved to hospitals where beds have been freed up by the Victorian government’s decision to restrict elective surgeries.

Around 150,000 aged care workers will receive a refresher course in infection control through the Victorian aged care response centre.

Meanwhile, up to 50 South Australian nurses will travel to Victoria to help with the fight.

The volunteers will be deployed for up to four weeks, primarily working in aged care, after the federal government and Victoria Health appealed for assistance.

The team includes people with various expertise, including the delivery of aged care, infection control and logistics support.

SA Health chief nurse and midwifery officer Jenny Hurley said the nurses were scheduled to leave for Melbourne on Friday.

“We’re proud SA nurses have great infection control, PPE, a team approach, will look after each other and use their clinical skills to ensure a safe environment,” she said on Wednesday.

“We want a structured approach so everyone’s aware of the aged care standards and how to work with the different groups.”

SA nurses who travel to Victoria must self-quarantine for 14 days when they return home.

Those classified as vulnerable or high-risk will not be deployed.

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