Aged care minister Richard Colbeck has written a letter to aged care providers thanking them for their response to COVID-19 but warning the battle isn’t over yet as Victoria records a spike in cases that led to the border with NSW being closed and put Melbourne back into a six-week lockdown.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there have been  8,886 cases across Australia, including 2,942 in Victoria. That includes 72 aged care residents, of whom 40 have recovered and 31 have died.

Richard Colbeck

The letter, which was sent out to providers on Tuesday, thanked aged care providers their response to the pandemic.

“Australia’s aged care sector has responded incredibly well to the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19,” Mr Colbeck wrote in the letter.

“You have all played a role in that, and I want to thank you, once again, for your hard work and continued determination to protect those in your care.”

No room for complacency

But Mr Colbeck added that the virus presented a particular risk to older Australians and there was  no room for complacency, even in communities without local transmission.

“Without a vaccination, our best defence against COVID-19 is sustained and continued vigilance. This will be especially important as new waves of infection flare up across some postcodes,” Mr Colbeck said.

He urged all providers to ensure they have up-to-date and ready-to-go outbreak management plans and reinforced the importance of good hand hygiene, cough etiquette and social distancing with workers.

Providers should ensure workers should stay at home and get tested if unwell and complete the health department’s online infection control training (read more here), Mr Colbeck said.

He also reminded providers of the resources available, including a new guide on what to do in the first 24 hours of an outbreak in residential aged care homes (read our story here).

In the letter, Mr Colbeck also welcomed the updated Industry Code on Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes, which was released on 3 July to include the latest advice from government and health authorities including the relaxing of restrictions for children and spouses (see more here).

Read the minister’s letter to aged care providers here.

Access the updated industry code here.

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