A side-effect of the pandemic?
The number of aged care resident deaths has dropped by almost 1,000 in the first part of 2020 compared to 2019 – even with over 550 coronavirus deaths, according to unpublished Department of Health data revealed by the newspaper.
32,398 aged care residents have died this year up to July, compared with 33,383 in the same time last year.
May, June and July saw the most significant falls – 4,747 in July this year compared to 5,455 in July 2019.
The Department attributes the drop to increased influenza immunisation rates in the community (flu vaccinations were made mandatory nationally from 1 May 2020) and infection control protocols introduced during the pandemic.
Infectious disease expert Sanjaya Senanayake told The Australian that while there was only two years of data available, lower levels of flu in the community were likely responsible.
“Overall, the large reduction in flu notifications this year compared to last year is probably at least partly due to the measures brought in to address COVID throughout the community, including in schools, although flu numbers will vary year to year,” he said.
We would hazard that lower occupancy levels in residential care – and increased hospital admissions as facilities look to transfer residents who do become sick – may have also played a part.