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Australia’s COVID-19 aged care death rate one of the highest in the world

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

The rate of coronavirus deaths in Australia’s aged care homes is among the highest in the world, a royal commission has heard.

The rate of coronavirus deaths in Australia's aged care homes is among the highest in the world, a royal commission has heard.

From inside her Glen Waverley aged care facility, Merle Mitchell told the royal commission of life in lockdown.

"From the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep I'm sitting in my own room in my one chair," she said.

READ MORE: Victoria's deadliest day as 19 people die of COVID-19

"I know I'm here until I die so every time I wake up I think damn, I'm still alive.

"I'm sure if you really ask most people here, they would all say they would rather be dead rather than be living here."

The months of isolation are meant to protect residents.

But instead, commissioners heard Australia now has one of the worst death rates in the world for aged care residents; 68 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths here are in aged care.

And worse, there was no particular plan to prevent it.

"The evidence will reveal neither the Commonwealth Department of Health nor the aged care regulator developed a COVID-19 plan specifically for the aged care sector," Peter Rozen QC, senior counsel assisting the royal commission, said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison today described some media commentary suggesting elderly Australians should be sacrificed to avoid an economically punishing lockdown as "amoral" and "hideous".

Coronavirus: PM rips into 'hideous' suggestion elderly deaths preferable to lockdown

"There've been some suggestions that somehow our elderly should have been offered up in relation to this virus," he said.

"That is just a hideous thought. An absolutely amoral, hideous thought."

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The inquiry heard lessons that should have been learned from Sydney's Newmarch House, like families left in the dark, have been played out again at St Basil's aged care home in Fawkner.

"Once again, some families unable to ascertain even whether their loved ones are alive or dead," Mr Rozen said.

"That this can happen in Australia in 2020 is unacceptable. That it is happening again so soon after Newmarch House is unforgivable.

"To put it very directly: old people are not less deserving of hospital treatment because they are old."

There are 1756 active cases of coronavirus across 122 aged care facilities in Victoria. The total number of deaths linked to aged care has risen to 138, with 14 out of the 19 deaths in the state overnight connected to aged care homes.

The outbreak at St Basil's now sits at 171 cases.

It has also emerged the aged care watchdog knew about the centre's first case but failed to notify the Federal Government.

It was another four days before the federal response was launched.

"I'm not here to have a crack at anyone at St Basil's but one minute we did too much, the next minute we didn't do enough," Premier Daniel Andrews said today.

Source: 9News

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