10 staff and residents at Arcare Maidstone Aged care facility in Melbourne’s North contacted COVID-19 as tight restrictions imposed by the fourth outbreak of COVID-19 in Melbourne and Regional Victoria are due to ease on Friday.
One of two cases of COVID-19 reported in Melbourne on Tuesday was an Arcare worker’s household contact, bringing the total number of cases linked to the facility to 10.
Victoria Health’s Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said an Arcare worker had infected other staff and residents.
“Someone has worked while infectious and infected three residents and then there has been transmission within the home to other workers as well,” he said.
“What we do know is that genomically it seems to be linked to the general City of Whittlesea/Port Melbourne outbreak, so it is the Kappa variant.
“But the first person in that outbreak doesn’t live anywhere near Whittlesea and as far as we know hasn’t been up in that direction and we haven’t been able to identify any other epidemiological links at this stage.”
The Department of Health declared all workers in Arcare’s Magnolia Wing to be close contacts of Sunday’s infected worker case, and they were required to self-isolate for 14 days.
Arcare CEO Colin Singh said Arcare was working with the Federal Government to ensure the facility had enough workers. Only one-third of Arcare Maidstone’s 110 staff and 53 of 76 residents were vaccinated when the outbreak took place.
“To specifically address the issue of team members working at more than one site, a new package has been introduced to ensure all staff only work at their primary place of work, with Arcare agreeing to compensate them for any income they forego as a result of lost shifts at other locations,” he said.
“COVID-19 has been contained to the Magnolia Wing, with strict procedures in place to ensure team members don’t cross over into other areas of the residence, including utilising a separate entrance to the building.”
Up to 30% of residents refusing vaccines
An investigation is also taking place into why up to 30% of residents in some aged care homes have not had a COVID-19 vaccination.
Council on the Ageing CEO Ian Yates said the most recent data shared with stakeholders was collated last week and showed most homes reported a refusal rate of between 5% and 15%.
The data does not reveal why residents had declined the vaccine, but Yates said doctors would not have recommended it for a significant number due to underlying health conditions.
The Federal Government was now focusing on homes with the highest levels of non-uptake to uncover why so many residents had chosen not to get vaccinated against COVID-19, said Mr Yates.
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Senator Richard Colbeck, said “the Department of Health is examining overall consent data to review instances where consent rates are significantly low as part of planning for any required follow up activity with these facilities”.
He added aged care facilities are responsible for supporting and obtaining residents’ consent to receive both doses of the vaccine.
The number of daily vaccinations in Victoria has more than trebled since the state went into lockdown.