Sick? Victoria’s acting chief health officer wants you to stay clear of aged care facilities.
In a media release today, Dr Brett Sutton confirmed seven elderly residents of St John’s Retirement Village in Wangaratta had died following an influenza outbreak.
“We are at the peak of one of the worst flu seasons ever and the elderly are one of highest risk groups,” Dr Sutton said.
“In aged care facilities, the flu can spread quickly.”
“Sadly, for the frail – and people with underlying health conditions – the flu can be very serious.
“About 800 people in Victoria die each year from influenza – the most of any communicable disease.”
“The seven residents who died were aged between 70 and 94 and had other conditions that made them particularly susceptible,” a health department spokesperson said in the release.
There have been 208 respiratory outbreaks at Victorian aged care facilities so far this year, up from 104 in the same period last year.
So far this year there have been 11,300 confirmed cases of influenza in Victoria alone.
Keeping flu at bay
“Good hand hygiene is strongly recommended to visitors to assist in controlling any spread of flu,” Dr Sutton said.
“This is a timely reminder to all visitors that washing their hands with soap before visiting loved ones in aged care or hospital is extremely important.
“And if you are sick you should avoid visiting loved ones in an aged care facility or hospital.
“Hand hygiene gel is widely available for visitors in hospitals and aged care facilities, and should be used even if you are not unwell.
“If you are unwell with a cough or a cold, remember to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and put the tissue straight in the bin.
“You should always wash your hands immediately afterward sneezing, coughing or going to the toilet with soap and running water and dry your hands thoroughly.”
Image: a recreation of the 1918 flu virus. Photo by Cynthia Goldsmith. Public domain.
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