Around 1,000 fewer Australian aged care residents have died in the first seven months of this year compared to the same period last year, according to a new weekly report from the Commonwealth Government.

The report provides a snapshot of the 213 residential aged care facilities that have recorded COVID-19 infections to date including a detailed list and COVID data of the 115 facilities with two or more cases, along with other statistics.

As of 11 September, there were 83 active outbreaks in residential aged care in Victoria (82) and Queensland (1) among residents (454) and staff (166) and 580 aged care residents with COVID-19 had died.

According to the report 32,398 aged care residents died between 1 January and 31 July 2020 compared to 33,383 residents for the same period in 2019.

This reduction is likely due to increased influenza immunisation rates infection control protocols introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the report said.

Influenza-related deaths also appear to be down on previous years. In the first seven months of 2020, 28 residents died from influenza, compared to a total of 837 residents in 2019 and 1,064 residents in 2017.

The report shows 213 out of 2,706 aged care facilities across Australia have had COVID outbreaks with 98 homes experiencing just one case. Of the 115 outbreaks with two or more cases, almost all have been in Victoria (110) followed by New South Wales (four) and Tasmania (one).

The report will be updated weekly, said Minister for Aged Care Richard Colbeck, who released the first one on Saturday.

Richard Colbeck

The report also compares Australia’s COVID death rate (3 per cent) to the United Kingdom (12.8 per cent), and the COVID death rate in aged care as a proportion of all residents in Australia (0.32 per cent) and the UK (5.3 per cent).

The UK has the fifth highest number of COVID-related deaths in the world (41,726) behind the US (194,467), Brazil (132,006),India (79,722)and Mexico (71,049) according to data from John Hopkins University as at 15 September.

Elsewhere, the report shows that the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has completed 448 infection control monitoring visits since 25 August across Australia to ensure staff, management and visitors are adhering to personal protective equipment (PPE) and infection control protocols.

PPE delivery

The report also highlights the delivery of PPE to residential aged care providers to date. As at 11 September, the National Medical Stock has provided residential aged care facilities approximately:

  • 16 million masks
  • 4 million gowns
  • 10 million gloves
  • 3 million goggles and face shields
  • 80,000 bottles of hand sanitiser
  • 140,000 clinical waste bags.

More than half a billion masks and approximately 52 million gowns, 261 million gloves, and 44 million goggles and face shields have been ordered for staggered delivery into the NMS through to January 2021, the report said.

Access the report here.

Australian Ageing Agenda has sought comment from Mr Colbeck.

This article has been updated for clarity.

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  1. Further deaths could have been stopped if the government had insisted that staff only work at one facility while there is COVID. Some nurses work in more than one facility, so endangering the elderly if they spread the COVID. For the sake of the elderly stop staff from working in a variety of facilities.

  2. Of all the ‘Covid-19’ positive aged-care patients who died since the pandemic began, how many actually died of the ravages of the virus? A number of reports suggest most positives didn’t have respiratory symptoms, but died of their other problems. Is that true? What are the breakdowns, please?

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