Sunday May 28, 2023

COVID outbreak at Melbourne aged care home



A Melbourne aged care home that was the centre of a deadly COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 is experiencing another coronavirus surge.

Fourteen residents and one staff member from St Basil’s Home for the Aged at Fawkner have tested positive to COVID-19, the federal health department confirmed on Wednesday.

The outbreak was declared on Saturday and the commonwealth is providing onsite infection prevention and control, the department said.

On Monday WorkSafe Victoria charged St Basil’s with nine breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act following its 2020 outbreak.

Ninety-four residents and the same number of staff tested positive to COVID-19 early on in the pandemic, with 45 people subsequently dying of complications from the virus.

St Basil’s has been contacted for comment.

Meanwhile, Victorian employers have been given the green light to seek the vaccine status of their workers, as the state moves away from mandates to workplace-set policies.

Under occupational health and safety regulation changes announced on Wednesday, businesses will be legally allowed to collect and hold employees’ COVID-19 vaccine information.

The state government said the updated regulations would help employers set their own workplace and workforce COVID-19 safety measures, and followed advice from Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton after the end of some vaccine mandates.

“The pandemic is not over and vaccinations remain our best defence for preventing serious illness and hospitalisation,” Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said in a statement.

The changes will take effect on July 12, when the next three-month extension of the state’s pandemic declaration begins, and remain for 12 months.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has slammed the pandemic declaration extension, saying it sends a message to the world that Victoria is in “crisis, crisis, crisis”.

While serving as the legal framework for positive case isolation requirements as well as ongoing mask and vaccine mandates in sensitive settings, Mr Guy wants COVID-19 restrictions to be created through the specific legislation.

“If we’re still in this circumstance by November, we’ll have the pandemic laws repealed with proper parliamentary oversight,” he told reporters on Wednesday.



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