Ron and Jan Hallett reckon they’ve never seen anything quite like it.
“This coronavirus certainly is a concern,” Ron, 86, told the ABC.
“If the disease spreads any further, there’d need to be much more care taken for people living in aged care, particularly in nursing homes, for sure.”
Ron and Jan live in a independent villa, a couple hundred metres from a HammondCare aged care facility.
Fears in the aged care sector were heightened when NSW Health confirmed that a 95-year-old woman who died in a Sydney nursing home had tested positive for coronavirus after being in contact with an infected worker.
The ABC toured the HammondCare facility in Sydney, one of thousands of aged care homes across Australia preparing for a potential coronavirus outbreak that could have devastating effects on elderly residents and staff.
Inside the facility, signs advising staff and residents to wash their hands were strategically placed.
Staff have been ensuring “outbreak kits”, including supplies of masks, disposable gowns, goggles and gloves, are ready and well-stocked so they can reach them at short notice in case of an outbreak.
HammondCare residential aged care general manager Angela Raguz said they were preparing in line with their pandemic plan, which included managing staffing levels and ensuring supplies.
“This goes beyond just your sort of normal infection control practices,” she said.
The elderly have been identified by experts as the age group most at risk from coronavirus.
Of the more than 1,000 people who have died from the disease in China, the majority were more than 60 years old and had pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
According to health experts, the over-80 age group had the highest fatality rate of all age groups, at 14.8 per cent.