Battle lines drawn as 'SAS' medical teams move into aged care homes

Coronavirus: AUSMAT sent in as Victorian premier declares 'no confidence' in privately-run aged care facilities

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AUSMAT to be sent in as Vic Premier declares 'no confidence' in privately-run aged care facilities

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SAS-style medical SWAT teams have been sent into Victoria's coronavirus-stricken aged care facilities as state and federal health authorities race to stop the spread of the virus.

The Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) crisis squad, usually deployed in humantarian disaster relief, has been sent to help staff the nursing homes, along with Australian Defence Force medics and nurses from other states including South Australia and NSW.

The federal government's decision to send in AUSMAT - the same team sent to the outbreaks in northern Tasmania and dubbed by Health Minsiter Greg Hunt the "SAS of the medical world" - came after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews declared "no confidence" in the state's privately-run homes.

Mr Andrews told reporters that he wouldn't want his mother to live in some of the private aged care facilities hit by COVID-19.

"I cannot stand here and tell you that I have confidence that staff and management across a number of private sector aged care facilities are able to provide the care that is appropriate to keep their residents safe," he said.

Even though aged care is a federal responsibility, Mr Andrews said both levels of government were working together on the response - including setting up the jointly-run Victorian Aged Care Response Centre to help manage the impact of the pandemic across facilities.

Meanwhile, Mr Hunt launched an impassioned defence of private aged care nurses at the centre of Victoria's coronavirus flashpoint.

His father Alan spent his final months in aged care. "The idea that our carers, that our nurses are not providing that care, I think, is a dangerous statement to make," Mr Hunt said. "They are wonderful human beings and I won't hear a word against them."

He said the cause of the outbreaks in the centres was due to the breaches in hotel quarantine that led to community transmission.

Mr Hunt's comments came as Prime Minister Scott Morrison cut short a tour of Queensland to urgently return to Canberra for aged care crisis talks.

The Prime Minister has played suggestions of rising tensions with the Victorian government over the state's aged care coronavirus crisis.

Joe Buffone, leader of the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre, said authorities were moving residents to hospitals to deal with the lack of staff, but also facing capacity issues in hospitals.

  • For information on COVID-19, please go to the federal Health Department's website.
  • You can also call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080
  • If you have serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call Triple Zero (000)

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