Coronavirus update

This morning we heard the very sad news that a 95-year-old woman, who died in a Sydney hospital on Tuesday night after developing a respiratory illness, has been confirmed to have had coronavirus. She is the second person in Australia to die from the COVID-19 strain. An 82-year-old aged care resident from the Dorothy Henderson Lodge at Macquarie Park, where the 95-year-old woman had previously been, was also diagnosed with the virus yesterday. The male resident is being treated in hospital. A 50-year-old aged care nurse who had been treating the man remains in hospital after testing positive to COVID-19 yesterday.

Our position

National Seniors fully supports the strong stance being taken by Health Departments and others on the threats of COVID-19. We are concerned that a person already identifiable as vulnerable shouldn't have been exposed to the virus in an environment where prevention was possible.

  • Isolation is too late a measure for people at risk and the risk should be stopped at the first points of access or contact.
  • Testing of staff needs to be fully implemented so that this doesn’t occur again.
  • Staff should not be penalised because they test positive and, particularly, it should not affect their wages and conditions. 

Any vulnerable person living in Australia, whether 95 or 5 years of age, deserves the fullest protection available under the conditions available.

COVID-19 versus Influenza

According to Epidemiologist Tom Duszynksi, writing in The Conversation, the coronavirus isn’t a rare “black swan” event but a product of evolution. He says there have been about 40 new, infectious diseases discovered globally since the 1970s, with pathogens often jumping from animals to humans.

COVID-19 produces signs and symptoms that are similar to influenza, which makes it difficult to distinguish between the two. COVID-19 can cause fever, cough, body aches, fatigue and, occasionally, vomiting and diarrhea; both can cause pneumonia as well. 

Also, COVID-19 is more contagious than seasonal influenza. The average person, even with mild symptoms, is likely to spread the disease to more than two people. By contrast, the seasonal flu’s rate is roughly half.

Be flu vaccinated

Getting the vaccine for the seasonal flu can be helpful for you and for medical professionals.

Since the signs and symptoms are similar, if everyone were to be vaccinated against the flu, fewer people would have the flu, thus making it easier to detect another disease with similar symptoms. The faster COVID-19 is identified, the faster public health and the medical community can respond to minimise the spread of disease.

Learn more here.

Looking ahead

National Seniors CEO John McCallum will be attending the first Aged Care COVID-19 Preparedness Forum on Friday 6 March. This is being hosted by the Australian Government Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy and the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck.

Want more information?

If you are interested in knowing more about Coronavirus these links may be of interest.