Ever-increasing numbers of COVID cases are being reported among in-home care recipients, according to government figures.

As of 26 July, there were 52,953 individual cases of COVID among those older Australians receiving community care.

According to government statistics, cases have been recorded across the country:

  • 10,652 in Queensland
  • 18,299 in New South Wales
  • 901 in the Australian Capital Territory
  • 895 in Tasmania
  • 11,314 in Victoria
  • 5,051 in South Australia
  • 5,612 in Western Australia
  • 1,229 in the Northern Territory.

All up, that’s an increase of almost 3,000 cases compared to the previous week’s figures.

Services impacted

The winter wave of the Omicron strain of the coronavirus is also hitting care workers hard. So much so, that some in-home care services are being cancelled.

Paul Sadler

“We currently have 10 per cent of staff unavailable due to COVID or the flu or being close contacts – that’s 27,000 people in residential aged care and another 15,000 in home care,” Aged & Community Care Providers Association interim CEO Paul Sadler told Community Care Review.

“We’re hearing that in-home care services are being cancelled for some of the clients and in residential care we’re just working without the numbers of staff that we would want to have,” Mr Sadler added.

Mr Sadler said roles across the board are having to be filled because of the BA.4 and BA.5 variants: “It’s pretty indiscriminate.”

Winter Omicron wave worse than first?

In an effort to bolster the shortage of residential aged care staff, the government announced Monday the Australian Defence Force will remain on standby for another two months. In addition, general duties personnel will be increased by up to 250.

While describing the announcement as “very good news”, Mr Sadler said the ADF commitment of an additional 250 personnel “barely touches the sides of just how big the loss of staff is at the moment.”

No military personnel has been allocated to assist the community care sector.

Meanwhile, Mr Sadler told CCR the winter wave of Omicron could well overshadow the summer wave. “The wave of Omicron that’s currently hitting us could be as substantial – maybe more so – than the first Omicron wave.”

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