About a third of COVID deaths in Australia this year have occurred in residential aged care, with more than half of all NSW facilities battling outbreaks.
Aged-care facilities have reported the deaths of 415 people to federal authorities since December 31, including 207 in NSW and 84 in Queensland.
South Australia aged-care homes reported 68 deaths, while 57 lives have been lost in Victorian facilities, according to the latest snapshot data released on Thursday.
Overall, the deaths of more than 1160 people with COVID-19 have been reported in Australia this year.
The latest aged-care outbreak data available shows more than half of all aged-care homes in NSW have experienced an Omicron outbreak, with 58 facilities reporting at least one COVID-19 death.
Multiple severe outbreaks have occurred in south-western Sydney, including Cabramatta’s St Sergius Aged Care where eight residents have died and 113 cases have been recorded.
Large providers haven’t avoided problems.
Half of ASX-listed Estia Health’s homes in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia have experienced recent outbreaks, with 10 people dying and 837 cases in staff and residents. Its worst affected home is in south-western Sydney.
Bupa has reported 1075 cases across 41 facilities.
Aged-care providers were under “extreme pressure” and government supports had fallen short, Leading Aged Care Services Australia said.
“At the start of this pandemic, we said it should be a national priority to do all we can to keep those people who are most vulnerable – older Australians in aged care homes and the staff that care for them – safe,” chief executive Sean Rooney said on Friday.
“Services are in this really difficult place where they’re trying to keep people safe through all the prevention and protection measures but we also know we can’t just lock people up.
“Part of [residents’] mental health and wellbeing is connecting with their loved ones.”
Aged-care providers and unions last week made a united call for defence force personnel to provide emergency support and assistance to nursing homes and for improved payments for exhausted frontline staff.
The federal government said it had supplied rapid tests to aged-care homes since August, with 6.7 million kits delivered at last count.
Nearly 90 million pieces of PPE have been supplied from the National Medical Stockpile since the pandemic.
Workforce surge staff have filled 77,103 shifts in aged care services affected by COVID-19.