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Australia’s Victoria Aged Care Home Set For More Covid Jabs

A locked-down Melbourne aged care home where a Covid-positive staffer worked will test residents again. 

SYDNEY — A Melbourne aged care worker’s “mystery case” has authorities worried, as fellow staff members and residents prepare for more Covid-19 testing and vaccinations.

Arcare Maidstone residents were locked down and placed into self-isolation on May 30 after a female healthcare worker at the facility tested positive.

The Altona woman worked at the site in the city’s northwest on May 26 and May 27 and may have been infectious at the time.

Arcare chief executive Colin Singh said no other staff members or residents had returned positive results but further testing was planned for June 1.

“We know this is an anxious time, but we ask that you please do not call asking for the results,” Singh wrote in a letter.

The Altona woman, one of five local cases reported on May 30, tested positive despite receiving her first coronavirus jab on May 12.

Only a third of Arcare Maidstone’s 110 staff and 53 of 76 residents have been vaccinated so far, and the federal government has brought forward scheduled vaccinations to May 31.

“We are encouraging all the residents and families of those who have not provided consent to reconsider,” federal Health Minister Greg Hunt informed reporters.

Hunt tweeted “The Australian Government is releasing an additional 130,000 vaccines to support Victoria to accelerate vaccinations in the state, including in the Whittlesea Local Government Area.”

Staff are seen leaving Arcare Aged Care facility in Maidstone, Melbourne, May 31, 2021. Acting Premier James Merlino is warning a Covid-19 outbreak at an aged care home is likely to worsen as Victoria reported 11 new locally acquired cases. (Daniel Pockett/AAP Image)

“Around the country, we have seen 85 percent of residents in residential aged care facilities and 100 percent of Victorian residential facilities, vaccinated so far.”

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Victorian branch secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said vaccination rates at the facility demonstrated Canberra’s “go-slow culture” on aged care.

“The hindsight of almost 2000 Victorian aged care residents contracting COVID-19, 655 resident deaths and more than 1600 aged care workers infected was not enough to motivate the Morrison government into urgent action,” she said.

The worker’s case is of “extreme concern” to Victorian health authorities as contact tracers are yet to link its transmission.

Empty seats at a cafe in Melbourne as the city's lockdown continues.
Empty seats at a cafe in Melbourne as the city’s lockdown continues. (James Ross/AAP Image)

“We will get everybody focused on trying to identify where it has come from and any exposure she may have had,” Victoria’s Covid-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar said.

As Victoria’s list of exposure sites soared past 200, Acting Premier James Merlino said no decision has been made on whether the state’s seven-day lockdown will end on June 3 evening as planned.

“This is something that is evaluated every hour of every day,” he said.

Meanwhile, Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas accused the federal government of failing to come to the aid of stood-down Victorian workers as he announced an AU$250 million ($193 million) business support package.

(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Praveen Pramod Tewari. Map by Urvashi Makwana)