Another resident has died from COVID-19 at the stricken Newmarch House aged care facility in Western Sydney, bringing the total number of deaths to 12.
- There were 11 new coronavirus infections in NSW yesterday, taking the state’s total to 3,016
- In the past two days, five residents at the Newmarch House aged care facility have died from COVID-19
- The Premier has told the facility’s operators to improve communication between families and residents
Anglicare Sydney, which operates the facility, said the past 24 hours had been “tragic”, following the announcement of four deaths yesterday.
It said the family of the latest victim had been contacted.
“This is a terrible situation and a challenge for us, our staff, but especially for our residents and their families,” the company said in a statement.
A total of 56 people, including 22 staff and 34 residents, have been infected at that facility since an employee worked six shifts despite displaying mild coronavirus symptoms.
It comes as Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned the planned easing of NSW’s coronavirus social-distancing lockdown this week will be scrapped if people don’t behave.
From Friday, people in Australia’s worst-affected coronavirus state will be allowed to make social visits to other households, albeit under strict conditions.
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But Ms Berejiklian today put NSW on notice, saying people should not take the changes for granted.
“I don’t want to be in a situation where New South Wales has to go backwards,” she said.
“If everyone sticks to the rules and moves forward together, we don’t have to go backwards.”
Under the changes, two adults and their children, if they have them will be allowed to visit other households.
There were 11 new coronavirus infections in NSW in the 24 hours to 8:00pm yesterday, taking the state’s total to 3,016.
Two of those new infections were staff at Newmarch House.
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The families of residents at Newmarch House have demanded better communication from the centre’s operator, Anglicare.
In an open letter to Anglicare CEO Grant Millard, the group of more than 90 family members asked for a dedicated phone hotline for the aged care centre, claiming phones go unanswered for “hours at a time”.
Ms Berejiklian said the impact of the virus at the aged care facility had been devastating, and warned its management to improve communication between residents and their families.
“We say to the operators of that aged care home ‘you need to lift your game’ in communicating to loved ones,” she said.
“It’s not acceptable to keep people in the dark, just put yourself in the shoes of those people, it’s horrific.
“Our hearts go out to all the families of the people who have succumbed to the disease and all the families who are really worried about their loved ones.”
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Anglicare Sydney CEO Grant Millard said the outbreak in the aged care home had been “unprecedented and traumatic”.
“Nothing actually prepares you for the trauma that our staff and residents and families are dealing with,” he said.
“We were warned on the weekend to expect a number of very difficult days this week with residents passing, so we do anticipate more deaths.”
Mr Millard said families of residents in palliative care were allowed to visit with strict controls.
But he said the risk of coronavirus was too great to allow families of other residents to visit the facility.
“This is a really hard decision for us to make,” he said.
“But the consequences of a further outbreak are too awful to contemplate.”
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The aged care home has been in lockdown since March 23 but Mr Millard rejected suggestions the facility was not communicating with families.
He said the facility sent a daily email to all families and maintained daily telephone contact with the designated “person responsible” for residents who had tested positive to coronavirus.
“It is a legal requirement for providers to only communicate directly with the ‘person responsible’ for the resident, maintaining the choice exercised by the resident and observing privacy law,” he said.
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Some parts of Australia have had no new coronavirus cases in more than a week.