Australians have been cautioned to remain vigilant as the national death toll from the coronavirus hits 100.
The death of a 93-year-old female resident at Sydney’s Newmarch House nursing home on Tuesday was the 49th death in NSW and took the national toll into triple digits.
It was also the 17th at the Anglicare-run facility in Western Sydney, triggering a warning from senior government ministers.
“This tragic toll reminds us that even as Australian states and territories move towards easing of restrictions, the threat of this virus remains,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
“The government has outlined a clear pathway to recovery, but Australians everywhere should stay alert, follow physical distancing guidelines and look out for each other.”
Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck said he was deeply saddened by the latest death at Newmarch House, which underlined the danger COVID-19 posed to vulnerable and senior Australians.
“We are not out of the woods. Protecting our most vulnerable is everybody’s responsibility.”
Four nursing homes in Melbourne have gone into lockdown after a resident from each were tested for the virus.
Three have returned positive results while results for a fourth are pending.
My deepest condolences to the family of Alice Bacon, the 19th Newmarch House resident to pass away. The facility had no IV fluids and tubing equipment. This would not be the case at Nepean Hospital – and shows why the NSW health system should have been used. pic.twitter.com/3b9K7tXOaZ
— Jodi McKay (@JodiMcKayMP) May 19, 2020
Last week, it was announced the aged care royal commission would examine the impact of COVID-19 on residential and home aged care.
In a bid to ensure pandemics can be better managed in future, Australia joined with more than 130 countries in a resolution backing an investigation.
The World Health Assembly decision, which commits to an impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation of the international response to the pandemic, passed on Tuesday night.
In a joint statement, Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne and Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Australian government welcomed the adoption of the “landmark resolution”.
“There is also a clear mandate to identify the source of the COVID-19 virus and how it was transmitted to humans, which will be necessary to prevent and reduce the risks of the emergence of new diseases that pass from animals to humans,” the statement issued on Tuesday night said.
Australia’s push for the inquiry into the origin of the virus – initially likened to sending in a weapons inspection team – sparked fury from Beijing, with diplomatic ties between the two nations under intense pressure.
“Not having that opportunity to have that final goodbye … That's the hardest part.” – Bernadette Quigley’s mother Leone Corrigan, 89, died of #COVID19 in Newmarch House. #abc730 @leighsales pic.twitter.com/qrUIwGR5LQ
— abc730 (@abc730) May 19, 2020
A Chinese embassy spokesman said, however, the resolution was “totally different from Australia’s proposal of an independent international review”.
“To claim the WHA’s resolution a vindication of Australia’s call is nothing but a joke,” the embassy said.
Cabinet minister David Littleproud said he would take the comments at “face value, but move on”.
“When we make our own decisions, we respect each other’s sovereignty in a respectful way. And that’s what we’ll continue to do at a ministerial level, at a government level, and a diplomatic level,” he told the ABC.
There are about 600 active COVID-19 cases out of more than 7000 in Australia.
In a further sign of restrictions easing, NSW students will return to classrooms on Monday.