Epping Gardens outbreak continues to grow


By Laura Michell

The coronavirus outbreak at Epping Gardens Aged Care has grown, with five new cases confirmed since yesterday.

Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton said there are now 82 cases linked to the facility, up from 77 yesterday.

It comes as families raise concerns about the handling of the outbreak and staff shortages.

Local MPs Bronwyn Halfpenny and Andrew Giles have also expressed concern about the outbreak.

Ms Halfpenny, who is the state member for Thomastown, took to social media this morning, saying she was “shocked” by the number of cases at the facility.

“I am told families and residents are getting very little communication,” she said.

Ms Halfpenny urged concerned residents and family members to contact her or her office.

Mr Giles said his thoughts were with the residents of Epping Gardens and their “anxious” families.

“We need to know that people will be kept safe, how they will be kept safe – and what happened,” the federal Scullin MP said.

Heritage Care, which operates Epping Gardens has been contacted for comment.

Premier Daniel Andrews said Victorian government-employed nurses would be sent to aged care facilities to care for residents after the federal government requested additional support for the sector.

Mr Andrews said there were now 769 cases linked to aged care facilities.

Mr Andrews said he didn’t have confidence in a number of private aged care facilities.

“I cannot stand here and tell you that I have confidence that staff and management across a number of private sector aged care facilities are able to provide the care that is appropriate to keep their residents safe,” he said.

“We don’t run this sector but the residents in these homes are all Victorians.

“I want to make sure there is greater comfort for families as well as their loved ones, better care and better flow of information.

“We need to make sure families have much better transparency.”

Under the government’s plan, residents of aged care facilities will be moved to hospitals if concerns are raised about their health by doctors, with up to 200 residents already moved.

The state government has also cancelled non-urgent elective surgery to free up beds and staff.