PM Scott Morrison apologised for aged care failures but rejected suggestions of complacency. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS

politics

Vic cases up, PM deflects aged care blame

2020-08-15 16:37:39

As Victoria continues to track down thousands of coronavirus cases with an unknown source, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has again pointed to community transmission as the driver of aged care deaths.

“At the end of the day, the reason we are having this challenge is because there’s widespread community transmission in Victoria,” he told Sydney’s 2GB radio on Saturday.

“We’re not having those problems in NSW or in Queensland or elsewhere.”

Mr Morrison said he and the special task force set up in Victoria to respond to the state’s aged care crisis, which currently features 2041 active cases, were working hard to stay on top of the problem. 

He conceded on Friday there had been unacceptable shortcomings in aged care but argued the global pandemic had created unique circumstances, despite multiple reports warning of problems in the sector well before the disease hit.

About 70 per cent of Australia’s coronavirus deaths have been among aged care residents.

There are 3383 cases with an unknown source in Victoria, up by 206 since Friday compared to increases of 51, 107 and 58 in recent days.

That was concerning to Premier Daniel Andrews on Saturday prompting him to warn the public against lockdown fatigue.

Victoria reported 303 new cases and four deaths on Saturday, of which two are linked to aged care. 

Daily case numbers are gradually decreasing, with the seven-day average down to 344 from 521 a week ago. 

“There is a long way to go and the only thing that wins if we get fatigue, if we were in any sense to give up … is the coronavirus,” Mr Andrews said.

Chief health officer Brett Sutton said Victorians should be hopeful about the effect of restrictions on daily cases but reinforced there was no room for complacency.

NSW has recorded another nine cases, including two staff at Chopstix Asian Cuisine at Smithsfield RSL in Sydney’s southwest.

Diners at the restaurant may have been exposed to the coronavirus, after two staffers worked across 10 days between July 31 and August 9 while potentially infectious.

Western Australia recorded one new case – a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.

Four men have meanwhile been caught trying to dodge Queensland’s border restrictions by sailing a houseboat from NSW to their home in Cairns.

The men were intercepted in Gold Coast waters on Friday after leaving Coffs Harbour on Wednesday.