LOCK DOWN

AN aged care home in Swan Hill has been put into lock down until further notice, with all access from the public, including friends and family, prohibited.

Respect Aged Care, which manages Alcheringa at Tower Hill, announced late yesterday it had locked down all of its 11 residential facilities in Tasmania and Victoria due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and "compounding" increase in positive detections.

Respect managing director Jason Binder said while he understood this may cause anxiety or frustration in some instances, it was the best method of mitigating the risk to the organisation's residents.

"From today, all Respect homes will be in lockdown until further notice, with all access from the public (including friends and family) prohibited, unless there are exceptional circumstances," he said.

"The coronavirus puts elderly people at high risk, particularly those with certain pre-existing conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, hypertension, and cancer."

To date, there have been five deaths in Australia, and they have all been individuals over 75, three of whom were residents of an aged care facility.

Mr Binder said the statistics to date further highlighted the high level of risk to Respect's residents, and therefore unprecedented measures were needed to ensure their safety.

"During this time, we will ensure residents can be contacted at all times over the phone, and we have set-up video chat facilities so friends and family can see and talk to their loved ones face to face if they wish to do so" he said.

"We will be accepting new admissions during the lockdown period, however there will be processes in place to ensure they pose no risk to existing residents and staff."

More than two weeks ago, Respect took proactive and unprecedented measures to ensure the safety of its residents and staff, ahead of any direct risk posed to them from the coronavirus.

Mr Binder said measures put in place had included:

& Requiring notification of any travel by staff and visitors;

& Ensuring all staff and visitors use hand sanitiser prior to entering the facility, with mobile sanitation units being installed at every entrance;

& Introduction of twice daily sanitation of surfaces, such as handrails, door handles and benches;

& Reducing social care to one-on-one activities only; and

& Removing shared items.

"These measures were implemented early because the virus appears to have a long incubation period, meaning symptoms are not apparent before transmission," Mr Binder said.

"We will continue to aggressively implement any necessary measures to limit our residents' exposure to the virus, as we understand containment and quarantine are among the most effective means of protection.

"Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures and we are asking all members of our communities to keep those most vulnerable safe, by practicing social distancing, washing their hands, and displaying proper cough and sneeze etiquette."