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Unvaccinated visitors to enter NSW aged care homes

Visitors to NSW residential aged care homes will no longer be required to be vaccinated against Covid under new changes starting Monday.

State health authorities announced the reversal of the public health order on Wednesday after the state recorded over 10,000 active cases and 2,000 hospitalisations.

NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant signed off on the changes, which will scrap compulsory daily visitor limits of two adults and two children per resident.

Aged care facilities will be able to introduce their own vaccination requirements for visitors, however legal vaccine mandates for staff will remain.

Changes to the visitor rules place NSW in line with both Queensland and Victoria.

The eased restrictions come amid a surge in active Covid cases across Australia brought by the newly dominant BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants.

Aged care minister Anika Wells said it was important that the states and Commonwealth took a unified approach to prevent the spread of the virus into aged care homes.

"The chief medical officer is speaking to his state counterparts ... to urge them to keep up mask mandates, even in aged care facilities," she told ABC Radio on Thursday.

New data shows over 2,055 aged care residents have died from the virus in 2022, a stark increase from the 231 recorded in 2021 and the 686 in 2020.

As of Wednesday, 819 aged care facilities in Australia currently have a COVID-19 outbreak.

Speaking with reporters yesterday, federal health and aged care minister Mark Butler warned that "millions" of Australians may become infected in the coming weeks.

“We have 250,000 to 300,000 people today who are infected on official data," he said.

"The real number’s probably twice that, or maybe even more, according to what we understand about this variant.”

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has said the new strains appear to evade protection from previous vaccines.

“BA.4 and BA.5 are associated with increased immune escape and we are likely to see rates of reinfection rise among those who have previously been infected with an earlier COVID-19 variant and those who are up to date with their vaccinations,” a statement read.

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2 comments

  1. They have done the same in Queensland and wonder why we have worse numbers now than previously.
    Visitors don’t even have to be vaccinated against the flu.
    Dopes not feel like this is the right road to take when we are still experiencing such high numbers in our communities.

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