Nurses are urging aged care facilities to boost staff numbers, after more than 100 residents and staff across dozens of Melbourne nursing homes contracted the coronavirus.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Foundation is also seeking special paid leave to employees forced into isolation because of the outbreaks.
Eight Victorian aged care facilities have residents with coronavirus, while a further 24 nursing homes have staff infected.
The foundation’s Lisa Fitzpatrick said private aged care facilities needed more nurses and carers even before the pandemic hit.
“They must increase clinical and personal staff now that we have increased community transmission of the virus,” she said.
Ms Fitzpatrick wants the Morrison government to lean on operators who refuse to comply.
The outbreak in Victoria continues to climb, with 238 new cases recorded on Wednesday.
A woman in her 90s died overnight, taking the state’s toll to 27.
More than a quarter of people in hospital in Victoria with the virus are in intensive care, with dozens needing ventilators.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said Melburnians and other Victorians are in “the great fight of our lives”.
Mr Hunt warned people to brace for more deaths.
“I think if we are honest, there will be more lives lost. There will be more people admitted to ICU and more on ventilation,” he told the Nine Network.
In NSW, there are now 34 cases linked to a pub in southwest Sydney, prompting tighter restrictions at licensed venues.
Genetic testing has confirmed the Crossroads Hotel cluster, which has triggered a backlash in Queensland and South Australia, came from Victoria.
The Northern Territory has declared the entire area of greater Sydney a hotspot in relation to travel restrictions, while Queensland has singled out Campbelltown and Liverpool.
As authorities attempt to tame rising infection rates in Victoria and NSW, debate around eliminating the virus has flared again.
Scott Morrison has warned attempting to eradicate the disease would obliterate the economy.
The prime minister is instead persevering with a suppression strategy.
Mr Morrison said the approach relies on the strength of state and territory health systems, and their ability to track and trace cases, along with adherence to social distancing rules.
“You don’t just shut the country down because that is not sustainable,” he told Triple M.
“You would be doubling unemployment, potentially, and even worse. The cure would be worse than what arguably wouldn’t be delivered anyway.”
Mr Morrison pointed out the Victorian outbreak, which has claimed several lives, was sparked by a quarantine breach.
“Unless we’re going to not allow any freight or any medical supplies into Australia, or not allow any exports or anything like this, there is always going to be a connection between Australia and the rest of the world,” he said.