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The Informer: Lockdowns scrapped for aged care homes | The Canberra Times


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After being low to the ground and relatively unnoticed for much of the week, COVID – and how we live with it – returned to radars today. The timeline of the pandemic across the nation was in full focus as today Victoria announced it would scale up elective surgery again as the state prepares to lifts its code brown pandemic alert for the health system on Monday. Private hospitals will be able to perform up to half of all elective surgery in metropolitan hospitals, and 75 per cent in regional Victoria. Just three days ago and more than 3000km away, Western Australia announced its intention to pause some elective surgeries in anticipation of a steep rise in infections. Meanwhile, Tasmania is managing three COVID-19 outbreaks at schools after students returned to the classroom this week; Queensland’s government teamed up with the state’s international airports to fast-track tourism recovery with a $200 million package targeting international airlines and in South Australia, Premier Steven Marshall promised people in isolation they’d be able to vote in next month’s state election. Phew. In NSW there are 13,000 prisoners under 24-hour lockdown because of the latest coronavirus outbreak, one MP claimed. Greens MP David Shoebridge declared it a “human rights disaster” and referenced two deaths at a Riverina jail as highlighting the problems of private companies managing prisons. The state’s Health Minister Brad Hazzard told a state inquiry the government had not ignored health advice on the Omicron variant and “let it rip” over summer. “We have managed this issue to the very best of our ability … NSW and Victoria have done an extraordinary job,” Mr Hazzard said. Aged Care and Community Services chief executive Paul Sadler disagreed. He claimed the government knew the aged sector was unprepared, but went head with relaxing COVID-19 restrictions in December anyway. This afternoon it was revealed that aged care homes with COVID-19 outbreaks will no longer be locked down. This follows new guidance provided to national cabinet by medical experts. Health Minister Greg Hunt said residents who tested positive in aged care would be kept separate from others in the home rather than having facilities locked down. So let’s take that, cautiously, of course, as a slice of good news along with the rollout of the Novavax vaccine from Monday. And while pandemic emergency measures were extended until April 17, they may be revoked earlier if health advice changes. THE NEWS YOU NEED TO KNOW:

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