Victorian police and State Coroner announce investigation into St. Basil’s coronavirus deaths – as residents to return to the home under guidance of Quality and Safety Commissioner

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The State Coroner, Judge John Cain, has begun an inquiry into the deaths of five residents at St Basil’s Home for the Aged in Fawkner, the site of Victoria’s second largest aged care coronavirus outbreak.

Judge Cain has directed Victorian Police to begin compiling an investigation into the deaths, releasing a statement saying: “Under the Coroners Act 2008, His Honour must find, if possible, the causes of the deaths and the circumstances in which they occurred.”

“His Honour is also empowered under the Act to make recommendations to prevent similar deaths in the future.”

St. Basil’s – which is run by the Greek Archdiocese of Australia – has been linked to 160 coronavirus cases as of Thursday.

The news comes as up to 80 hospitalised residents are due to be returned to the home under a gradual repatriation plan developed in conjunction with the Federal Government, and be overseen by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

The home has undergone a deep clean since it was closed last week and the reopening is subject to the centre meeting the Government Standards, including staffing receiving appropriate training in Personal Protective Equipment.

Under the plan, the Greek Archdiocese of Australia will resume control of the home with regular uninfected staff, who were temporarily replaced by Aspen Medical on 22 July, to also return to work.

Despite media reports that some COVID positive residents would also be returned, Health Minister Greg Hunt told media yesterday that this was not the case.

“The advice from the Aged Care Minister today, agreed with me, is under no circumstances would a positive resident be returned,” he said.

“Nobody will be returned unless the Quality and Safety Commissioner is comfortable, supported and utterly convinced that the standards and protocols are in place to protect all residents.”