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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Advocates say independent analysis of Delta outbreak a must

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Advocates have urged the Federal Government to carry out an independent analysis of Delta variant outbreaks in aged care facilities to protect residents from infections.

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) said a review was critical as jurisdictions ease COVID-19 restrictions and more cases show up in hospitals.

The commonwealth on Tuesday released the findings of a review into COVID outbreaks in aged care facilities, with the government pledging to implement all 38 recommendations.

While LASA chief executive Sean Rooney welcomed the release of Independent Review COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian Residential Aged Care Facilities by Professor Lyn Gilbert AO and Adjunct Professor Alan Lilly, he said more work was needed to be done.

“We believe it is a national priority to do all that we can to protect older Australians in aged care homes and the dedicated staff who care for them,” Rooney said.

“We need to ensure that best practices and procedures are based on the latest expert analysis, which is why the government must conduct an independent analysis of Delta outbreaks so that we can be prepared.”

Since the start of the pandemic in Australia, more than 800 deaths have occurred in aged care facilities, more than half of the national death toll from COVID-19.

More than 400 individual facilities have been impacted by a COVID outbreak in the country.

Rooney said information about Delta variant outbreaks in aged care homes needed to be shared widely to make sure future COVID clusters could be avoided.

“The review by independent experts assists us in doing this as we continue to learn and adapt to COVID as it continues to impact aged care and the wider community,” he said.

“Having timely access to these insights enables the sector to respond appropriately.”

LASA says if the aged care sector is to maintain its vigilance and keep people safe, it needs:

  • The Government to conduct an independent analysis of Delta outbreaks and share this information with service providers in a timely fashion to ensure lessons learned are applied in practice.
  • To ensure aged care staff are adequately resourced and enabled to keep people safe. With this in mind, LASA wants the Government to ensure the additional operational costs of living with COVID in aged care are calculated and provided to aged care services.
  • To ensure nationally consistent and locally relevant protocols between aged care, general practice and acute care agencies and services. LASA notes recent progress the sector is having by working with state and federal governments to realise this outcome.  
  • Finally, LASA wants all Australians to work with aged care providers in keeping vulnerable older Australians safe from COVID.

It comes as Western Australia eased its border restrictions with NSW, ahead of the state unveiling its road map to reopening.

NSW has been moved from extreme to high risk, which will allow more people to travel into WA, but travellers will need to isolate at home for 14 days upon arrival.

Meanwhile, Queensland has indicated it has ruled out drivers coming into the state and quarantining at home until the 80 per cent vaccination target has been reached.

Home quarantine will be offered to travellers who enter the state by air from November 19, but those who enter the state by road will have to wait longer.

The latest vaccine figures have shown the national double dose rate is now at 78.5 per cent, with 88.7 per cent of those over 16 having had a first dose.

The NT has the lowest vaccination rate of any jurisdiction at 64.3 per cent, just behind WA on 64.4 per cent and Queensland on 65.3 per cent.

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