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COVID-19 pandemic exposes deadly cracks in Australia's aged care system: inquiry

Aug 12, 2020

Sydney (Australia), Aug 12: The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed serious flaws in Australia's aged care system, and the lack of a specific plan to handle the virus may have cost lives, experts told a hearing into the aged care sector which wrapped up on Wednesday.
On the same day, officials confirmed a record 21 additional deaths associated with the virus, 16 of which were linked to outbreaks at aged care facilities.
Over three days, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety unwrapped the response to COVID-19 by the sector, which has experienced over half of the country's deaths and a high number of infections.
Counsel assisting the commission, Peter Rozen QC, said that the COVID-19 pandemic had "starkly exposed" all of the flaws of the aged care sector.
Rozen said the evidence showed that while Australia's health system in general was overhauled to cope with the pandemic, no specific plans were made for the aged care sector, an oversight which may have cost lives.
Outbreaks at Sydney's Newmarch House and Dorothy Henderson Lodge were closely examined by the inquiry, including a lack of specific infection control expertise, and decisions about when to move infected residents to hospitals.
Joseph Ibrahim, an expert in ageing research at Monash University, told the inquiry that he believes Australia's rate of death in residential aged care is the second-highest in the world, behind Canada at 80 percent.
The inquiry earlier heard of a "frustrating level of dysfunction" between state and federal authorities during the early days of the pandemic over whether to transfer infected residents to hospital or keep them isolated within the facility.
Ibrahim described the decision not to transfer patients as "wrong," and said that hundreds of lives would likely be lost due to the delayed reaction of those responsible.
Source: Xinhua News Agency