States to establish rapid response units to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in aged care

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Rapid response units aimed at controlling COVID-19 outbreaks in aged care could be rolled out across Australia as leaders plan ways to avoid the crisis in Victoria, where 1,500 active cases are linked to 110 nursing homes, being repeated.

The states made the commitment at the National Cabinet meeting on Friday, where aged care was one of the key agendas, The Australian reported.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the rest of the country needed to respond to lessons already learned in Victoria, which recorded its deadliest day yesterday since the pandemic began, with 19 more COVID-19 deaths.

Stress tests

Mr Morrison said the meeting had committed to an audit of state and territory aged care emergency response capabilities because there was a need to “stress test” the systems across Australia.

“There will be an ongoing auditing of aged-care preparedness around the country,” Mr Morrison said.

“A key part of this is … being in a position to put in place quite quickly an aged-care response unit similar to that which we’ve been able to stand up in Victoria, which has aided greatly in our ability to stabilise the situation.

“The other states are very keen to get in place and to do the stress testing of their own systems.”

The Victorian Aged care Response Centre, established on July 25, brings together a range of federal and state government agencies with the aim of co-ordinating and expanding resources to tackle the challenges of COVID-19 in aged care services.