Harsh reality of Australia’s deadliest day


Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said low community transmissions was the "best defence" against virus deaths in Australia as Australia recorded another morbid rate.

Of the 25 deaths recorded in Victoria in the 24 hours leading up to Monday, 22 were linked to aged care outbreaks.

Australia's coronavirus death rate in aged care is one of the highest in the world but the tragic loss of more than 200 lives is "hardly surprising", a royal commission investigating the outbreak in the sector heard last week.

Counsel assisting Peter Rozen, QC, said 68 per cent of all deaths from COVID-19 in Australia came from residential aged care: "one of the highest rates in the world."

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Mr Hunt was questioned on Monday afternoon about how Australians could have confidence in the nation's virus response with such harrowing figures.

"These agonising figures reflect the high community transmission numbers from seven, 10, 14 days ago," Mr Hunt said.

"The very, very sad outcome here is that once you have high community transmission numbers, at a period some days later there are likely to be people who are very sick and then those that lose their lives.

"Secondly, what we also know is that the best defence for any aged care system anywhere in the world is low community transmission."



Mr Hunt said seven of Australia's eight states and territories have "extraordinary outcomes now, in terms of community transmission and protection in aged care" but there was still work to be done in Victoria.

"We have two great defences," he said. "One is to beat the numbers on community transmission, and those trends are coming day on the seven day rolling average in Victoria. Seven out of eight states and territories, very strong. Victoria, we've still got work to do.

"And then secondly, the specific defences that are applied in each and every aged care home around the country. And they are what is helping to protect, but without community transmission being controlled, we won't ultimately be able to defeat this."



But the Minister stressed that we were "beginning to win that battle of community transmission".

"We are seeing the seven day average come down in Victoria."

Mr Hunt argued despite the royal commission's comments that Australia has "one of the lowest rates of death in aged care in the world".

He said Canada is 15 times higher on a per resident ratio than Australia, Ireland and Italy are over 20 times higher and Belgium 49 times higher.

Victoria recorded a 282 cases in the 24 hours leading up to Monday. Australia's previous worse day for deaths was 21 last Wednesday, all in Victoria.

Originally published as Harsh reality of Australia's deadliest day

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