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Thursday, December 7, 2023

COVID deaths in aged care pass 2020 toll

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More people have died in residential aged care from COVID-19 in just two months than during the whole of 2020, a Senate committee has been told.

Since the start of the year, 691 aged care residents have died from the virus, as Omicron cases surged across the country.

That’s compared with 685 aged care fatalities during the whole of 2020 and 282 throughout all of 2021.

Despite the large numbers of deaths, Aged Care Services Minister Richard Colbeck has slapped down calls for him to resign.

After the Government announced up to 1700 Australian Defence Force personnel would be sent into aged care to assist the workforce, just 106 have so far been deployed.

As of Wednesday, ADF members had been deployed to 21 residential aged care facilities out of the 2900 across the country.

There were 25 ADF personnel deployed in Queensland, 12 in NSW, 45 in Victoria, 18 in South Australia and six in Western Australia.

Colbeck said the Government had moved quickly to implement new rules on furloughing staff following workplace shortages in aged care.

Health officials said the situation was exacerbated in early January due to large numbers of COVID cases in aged care and staff also being on leave.

It was revealed there were 915 COVID-19 outbreaks in aged care facilities across the country.

Of those, 479 have been in NSW, 148 in Victoria, 176 in Queensland, 85 in South Australia, three in Tasmania, six in the Northern Territory, 16 in the ACT and two in Western Australia.

Health officials also told estimates that between four and five per cent of the aged care workforce had missed shifts due to testing positive for COVID-19.

However, officials did not state how many facilities across the country had faced staffing issues due to the pandemic and rising Omicron infections.

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