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Eleven new cases, 'extreme concern' at nursing home after worker infects patient

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A Melbourne aged care resident and another worker have tested positive for COVID-19, forcing a number of facilities into lockdown and taking the number of active cases in Victoria’s latest outbreak to 54.

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As authorities advised Victorians the outbreak may get worse before things improve, Health Minister Martin Foley confirmed a further six cases were detected past the midnight deadline, on top of the five already reported on Monday.

Three of those cases are linked to an outbreak at the Arcare Maidstone after a worker at the facility returned a positive result on Sunday.

The first is the son of the Altona woman and the second is an unvaccinated colleague who also worked at Blue Cross Western Gardens facility in Sunshine on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

An Arcare Maidstone resident, a woman in her 90s, has also tested positive and has been moved to hospital.

“The fact this outbreak has crept into a number of private residential aged care facilities is obviously of very great concern to the Victorian government,” Foley said.

“It’s a very great concern to all Victorians and indeed to the Commonwealth government.”

On the fourth day of the state’s seven-day lockdown, Acting Premier James Merlino warned the situation was worsening as active cases hit 54.

“There is no doubt, the situation is incredibly serious,” he said.

“The next few days remain critical. I want to be very clear with everyone, this outbreak may well get worse before it gets better.”

More than 600 people living in aged care homes died last year as a result of Victoria’s devastating second wave of COVID-19, which lead to a 112-day lockdown.

The majority contracted the virus from staff, many of whom were working across multiple facilities.

Arcare chief executive Colin Singh said the resident had received one dose of the Pfizer vaccine and was awaiting a second dose.

Blue Cross Western Gardens has now joined the Arcare Maidstone in locking down residents.

Contact tracers are yet to uncover how the first worker caught the virus, making her a “mystery case”.

Only a third of Arcare Maidstone’s 110 staff and 53 of 76 residents have been vaccinated so far, with the federal government bringing forward scheduled vaccinations to Monday.

Federal MP Bill Shorten, whose electorate of Maribyrnong takes in the facility, said most residents and staff were yet to receive their second dose of the vaccine.

“The people who are sick had actually had a vaccination. You need two. One is not enough,” he told ABC News Breakfast on Monday.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said 85 per cent of residents in private aged care facilities and 100 per cent in Victorian residential facilities have been vaccinated.

Arcare Maidstone was locked down and residents were placed into self-isolation on Sunday after a staff member at the facility, a woman in her 50s, tested positive for the virus.

The Altona woman had received her first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on May 12.

It is possible she was infectious during shifts on Wednesday and Thursday.

Contact tracers are yet to uncover how the worker caught the virus, making her a “mystery case”.

Only a third of Arcare Maidstone’s 110 staff and 53 of 76 residents have been vaccinated so far, with the federal government bringing forward scheduled vaccinations to Monday.

Shorten, whose electorate of Maribyrnong takes in the facility, said most residents and staff were yet to receive their second dose of the vaccine.

“Worryingly both the staff member who recorded positive but one resident, possibly two … (who) appear to have contracted COVID, were both vaccinated in the first round,” he told ABC News on Monday.

“It just emphasises … that two vaccinations is what we need.

“The people who are sick had actually had a vaccination. You need two. One is not enough.”

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Victorian branch secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said vaccination rates at the Maidstone facility demonstrated Canberra’s “go-slow culture” on aged care.

“The hindsight of almost 2000 Victorian aged care residents contracting COVID-19, 655 resident deaths and more than 1600 aged care workers infected was not enough to motivate the Morrison government into urgent action,” she told ABC Radio.

Fitzpatrick also said the Royal Freemasons’ Footscray and Coppin Centre aged care homes are also going into lockdown after the Arcare worker did shifts at those facilities.

The Royal Freemasons facilities were not among the 40 locations added to the state’s list of exposure sites on Sunday.

The new sites include a soft drink factory in Thomastown, a number of bus routes in Melbourne’s north and various stores at Chadstone shopping centre.

Craigieburn’s Willmott Park Primary School was closed on Monday with nearby Mount Ridley College listed as an exposure site after a pupil tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday.

Merlino said no decision has been made on whether the state’s seven-day lockdown will end on Thursday evening as planned.

“This is something that is evaluated every hour of every day,” he said on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas accused the federal government of failing to help stood-down Victorian workers, as he announced a $250 million business support package.

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