Providers on high alert over coronavirus

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Aged care operators are on high alert with elderly residents considered the most at risk of becoming seriously ill if they catch the deadly coronavirus. Source: Sydney Morning Herald.

By Dana McCauley and Melissa Cunningham, Sydney Morning Herald.

Raina MacIntyre, head of the Biosecurity Program at UNSW’s Kirby Institute, said the coronavirus could infect between 25 and 70 per cent of the Australian population and warned the impact in Australia could be worse than in China because of the ageing population.

In China, about 9 per cent of the population are over the age of 65, compared with 16 per cent in Australia.

“It is going to manifest with a greater impact,” Professor MacIntyre said. “We know already that the infection is much more severe in older age, that’s the age group that’s going to mostly end up hospitalised and in intensive care.”

The federal health department has contacted aged care providers urging them to use active “containment processes” to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, known as COVID-19. Authorities suggested measures such as hand washing and cough etiquette, and to be prepared to identify and isolate cases to “ensure that the other residents are safe”.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said yesterday the threat to the elderly was the federal government’s “primary focus” in working with states and territories to prepare for a potential human-to-human coronavirus outbreak in Australia.

A Catholic aged care provider servicing the Chinese community is screening all visitors and staff at its residential facilities in Sydney, checking temperatures and denying entry to anyone deemed at risk of carrying the virus.

The Sisters Of Our Lady Of China placed one of its facilities into a three-week lock-down after Chinese New Year, and remains on “high alert”, spokeswoman Natasha Collis said.

“If there are any issues, we send them for pathology and medical clearance to come back.”

FULL STORY

Aged care operators on high alert over coronavirus (Sydney Morning Herald

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