More than 7,000 cases of COVID-19 in elderly care as hundreds of homes were locked

A spokesperson for NSW Health said that while high vaccination rates among elderly care residents were reassuring, the health effects of COVID-19 on frail older people meant that special attention was paid to the review of infection control.

Guidelines published by the NSW Government’s Clinical Excellence Commission state that residents who have close personal contact with a positive case for more than 15 minutes are classified as high risk and must be isolated for 14 days.

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“In light of the high levels of vaccination in these facilities and the prevalence of the milder Omicron strain, NSW Health continues to work with the Commonwealth to review current infection controls, taking into account feedback from industry, clinicians, residents and families” said a spokesperson.

“The clinical and wellness needs of residents remain paramount.”

The spokesperson said that while aged care is a federal responsibility, NSW Health and the federal health department have a “joint protocol to support the management of COVID-19 cases or outbreaks in residential aged care facilities.”

Thirty-seven care residents have died from COVID-19 this year, with 25 deaths since last week.

Government figures released this week showed that 1,700 of the 2,700 federally funded aged care services across the country had been visited by medical companies to provide a third dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

“All facilities in range through VAS providers are expected to receive boosters by the end of January 2022,” a spokesman for the federal health department said.

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