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Victoria is set to record ‘fewer than 400’ new coronavirus cases

Daniel Andrews said he would not want his mother to be in some of Victoria’s crisis-hit care homes.

The Victoria Premier was asked by a journalist if he would be happy for his 75-year-old mother Jan to be a resident in one of the 61 care homes that have suffered coronavirus outbreaks in Victoria. 

Mr Andrews replied: ‘Well my mother is in her mid 70s, she has some underlying health conditions but she lives at home.

‘Some of the stories we have seen are unacceptable and I wouldn’t want my mum in some of those places,’ he said, referring to reports that some residents have been left lying in soiled sheets and without enough food.

‘I would not let my mum be in some of these places, I wouldn’t.

‘But that’s not a decision I have to make at the moment because she’s very happy to be at home and if she’s watching this she’ll be very angry that I’m even contemplating the notion of going into residential aged care,’ he joked.   

Victoria has recorded 384 new coronavirus cases and six more deaths as the state’s aged care crisis deepens. 

There are 4,774 active cases, including 414 health workers. The state has suffered 83 deaths in total, only one less than the rest of country. 

A total of 206 people are in hospital with 45 in intensive care. 

There are 769 active cases of coronavirus in care homes, including hundreds of staff who must isolate for two weeks, causing chronic shortages.

Premier Andrews said he had ‘no confidence’ that private homes can look after residents and has cancelled non-urgent elective surgery to free up public health staff and draft them into homes.  

Two people in their 90s, three people in their 80s and one person in their 60s died overnight, taking the state’s death toll to 83, with 22 deaths in the past three days.  

The carehome with the most cases is St Basil’s in Epping, which has suffered more than 80 cases.

‘We have sent registered nurses in there to support the care and the wellbeing of those residents,’ Premier Andrews said. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is visiting businesses on the Sunshine Coast, will return to Canberra to help deal with chronic staff shortages.

At 11pm on Monday one home in Melbourne had to call in ADF troops to work through the night after nurses were sent home because they were ill. 

‘The standing-down, necessarily, of many in that workforce has had a very significant disruption to the provision of care in those facilities,’ Mr Morrison said.

‘Commonwealth has been working, including with other states, to ensure that we can plug those gaps wherever we possibly can. 

‘But I want to be up-front with you – it’s very difficult and it’s very hard to get people into those positions, particularly given the complexity and difficulty of the situations they’re facing.’

‘There is no effort being spared to ensure that we can get the people to the places they need to be.’

Meanwhile, federal Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck has been tasked with improving communication between age care homes and the families of patients. 

Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles said for families with loved ones in aged care, the situation was the most terrifying moment of the pandemic.

‘This is a catastrophe. This is a system which is in crisis,’ he told reporters in Melbourne.

‘This is a matter of heartbreak for families who are having to farewell loved ones – but not in person, in ICUs across the state.’  

New South Wales on Tuesday recorded 14 new cases of the virus. 

Six of the new cases are linked to the funeral gatherings cluster, four cases are associated with Thai Rock Wetherill Park, and one case is associated with the Thai Rock restaurant at Potts Point. One case is a staff member at the Apollo restaurant in Potts Point. 

On Monday Victoria suffered six deaths and a record 532 new cases.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said that figure could mark the peak of the crisis but The Australian Medical Association Victoria warned that if numbers do not come down then a Stage Four ‘New Zealand-style lockdown’ would soon be needed.

‘What New Zealand did for a month is that they closed pretty much all businesses other than pharmacies, medical clinics, grocery stores, petrol stations and really curtailed a lot of retail shopping and a lot of businesses,’ President Julian Rait told 3AW on Monday.

‘That’s the model that I would look to and clearly they were able to achieve elimination through that with a month of such measures. 

‘I am not suggesting that is necessarily possible now in Victoria with the number of cases but I would suggest that stronger measures for a shorter period might be a preferable strategy to months and months of what we have got at the moment.’  

Professor Sutton said he hoped the numbers would continue to decrease. 

‘Modelling, with our effective reproduction number that I have seen most recently, suggests that today should be the peak,’ he told reporters on Monday.

‘I’m not going to sit back and say today is the peak. We have to see what happens in coming days.’

Premier Andrews said people who are going to work sick – including those who work at aged care facilities – are the ‘biggest driver’ of the state’s second wave.

He warned the state’s six-week lockdown, which started on July 8, would not end until people stop going to work with symptoms.

Mr Andrews even flagged the possibility some industries could be shut down.

‘If we were to continue to see outbreaks, if we were to continue to see people quite obviously attending work when they shouldn’t be, then every option becomes on the table,’ he said.

Monday’s deaths included a woman in her 90s, a man and a woman in their 80s, a man and a woman in their 70s and a man in his 50s.

Five of the deaths linked to aged care outbreaks.

Victoria has reported 58 deaths in the past six weeks, taking the state’s toll to 77 and the national figure to 161.

Mr Andrews on Monday night pleaded with young people to stay at home. 

‘This virus doesn’t just affect older people,’ he wrote on Facebook. 

‘Young, fit and otherwise healthy people are struggling to breathe.’ 

Victoria’s Health Minister Jenny Mikakos echoed the premier’s sentiments. 

‘This is not an older person’s disease. A quarter of infections we are seeing are young people in their 20s,’ she said. 

‘People in their 60s only represent six per cent.

‘This is a highly contagious virus that can strike anyone in our community regardless of their age, regardless of their circumstances.’

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