As more infections are reported at Anglicare's Newmarch House in western Sydney, Labor has called on the Aged Care Royal Commission to investigate what has gone wrong at the coronavirus-riddled facility.
Currently there are 66 confirmed COVID-19 infections among staff and residents - three more cases were confirmed this morning despite the presence on site of expert infection-control medical personnel. Confirmation of another death among elderly residents yesterday brought the facility's death toll to 15.
"The residents of Newmarch House and their loved ones, and the staff at the facility, deserve answers about what has gone wrong," said Shadow Minister for Ageing Julie Collins.
"The Royal Commission has the necessary investigative powers to get to the bottom of what has happened, with concerning reports of infection control failures at Newmarch House.
"While the Royal Commission is rightly looking at aged care and COVID-19 more generally, a deeper investigation into what happened at this facility is warranted.
"We have seen the devastating impact of coronavirus outbreaks in aged care in Australia and across the globe.This is why an investigation from the Royal Commission is so important. It is vitally important workers and providers are supported to ensure that we limit the transmission of COVID-19 in aged care," said Ms Collins
It was previously believed that a carer, who worked six shifts at Newmarch House while having mild respiratory infection symptoms, had been responsible for the initial outbreak, however NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said it was possible a previously identified employee was not the initial source of the outbreak.
Dr Chant said the ongoing forensic investigation may ultimately not be able to identify the first case.
Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck has given assurances that the Government is taking steps to contain the spread of COVID-19 in aged care facilities. In a statement he said the Government is determined to ensure a safe environment exists in aged care facilities.