More than 130 aged care facilities in Queensland are facing outbreaks of COVID-19, as experts fear for the state’s most vulnerable.
Janee Hong said she has not seen her mother since Boxing Day, with the 84-year-old one of 367 aged care residents who has contracted COVID-19 across the state.
In the 133 facilities with outbreaks, 620 staff members have contracted the virus, and 35 per cent of the workforce is currently isolating or recovering from COVID-19.
“It’s very distressing for her, she feels like the family has deserted her and left her there,” Ms Hong said.
“Watching your mother upset on a video call and not being able to give her a hug is really really difficult.”
Ms Hong expressed disappointment her mother had not received her third booster shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Of the seven deaths from the virus recorded in the state today, two were residents of aged care homes who had not yet had their booster.
“We knew we were going to have an influx of the virus, why on earth would you not protect your most vulnerable in your aged care facilities?” Ms Hong said.
Paul Sadler, CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia, said the worst could be yet to come.
“We could see the number of aged care homes affected double this week, so it’s definitely going to get worse,” he said.
Many are calling for visitor numbers to be reduced, as residences struggle with a reduced workforce.
“We’ve got a situation where aged care homes are really struggling to provide basic levels of care,” Mr Sadler said.
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said there would be no move from the state government to ban visitation.
“There is no plan or intention, either at state or national level, to close down aged care facilities to visitors,” Dr Gerrard said.
For Ms Hong, this is little reprieve.
“I understand it, but it doesn’t make it any easier,” she said.