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Labor leader Anthony Albanese spoke outside FBFI Aged Care Community Village in NSW. Picture: David Swift/NewsCorp

‘Appalling’: Omicron response blasted

Australia’s aged care sector was left unprepared to deal with Omicron as experts warn the government’s planning has been nothing short of “appalling”.

Accusing the government of failing to roll out the booster program to residents fast enough, Australian Health Services Research Institute‘s Professor Kathy Eagar said every family should be concerned about what’s happening in aged care.

“This week 40 per cent of all homes in Australia have an outbreak of Covid that is really appalling,” she told the ABC.

“Every resident should have had the opportunity for a third dose well before Christmas and everyone was due well before Christmas.”

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said aged care residents, workers and operators had a right to be frustrated with the government.

“People in aged care are really suffering,” he told reporters at an aged care home in Sydney.

“When people saw Scott Morrison there on TV being flippant saying, ‘We’re living with Covid, we’re taking wickets with the virus’, they were entitled to be quite angry and frustrated at the failure of this government to put in place the mechanisms that were required.

“Scott Morrison was so determined everything would be back to normal by Christmas. It just didn't reflect the health advice, it didn’t reflect the advice from operators.”

Albanese said the lack of rapid antigen tests had left residents isolated from their families and staff.

Aged and Community Services Australia chief executive Paul Sadler has warned the number of homes experiencing outbreaks would only rise.

“I believe there is now a risk that we will have over half of all the aged care homes in Australia with outbreaks and that number is likely to continue to increase,” he said.

Experts warn Victoria's elderly to stay home

A Melbourne epidemiologist has encouraged older Victorians to embark on a self-imposed lockdown in the coming weeks as cases continue to spike.

Head of the epidemiological modelling unit at Monash University, James Trauer, made the call as modelling suggested the state was approaching its peak in infections.

He told Melbourne radio station 3AW those at risk of becoming seriously ill with the virus should take extra precautions, with hospitalisations predicted to rise over the next month.

“People in medical research and epidemiology were [originally] talking about how we could shield elderly people and I think we should be thinking that way again,” he said.

“Only for a short period of time, for a few weeks.

“For an elderly person, just while the hospitals are as stressed as they are, just try to shield yourself away, stay away from your contacts.”

Associate Professor Trauer said the latest outbreak in Victoria was looking more positive and hoped the pandemic was approaching its endemic phase.

He said he hoped infections would begin to come down quickly and the virus would become “relatively harmless” in the next year.

“We’re looking at this endemic space where we see continuing transmission indefinitely but it just becomes less of an issue,” he said.

“Things will hopefully settle down within the next few months or the next year or so where we at least won’t need those lockdowns or whole of society effects.”

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