'Very distressing': Victorian health minister chokes up during coronavirus briefing

Olivia Lambert
·News Editor
·3-min read

Victoria’s health minister choked up as she revealed she was “very distressed” by the number of coronavirus outbreaks in aged care homes in the state and the rising number of fatalities.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Jenny Mikakos paused as she was delivering a coronavirus update when her voice began to break and quiver.

“I personally have found the last week very distressing,” she said.

“I want to acknowledge the grief of all of those families who have lost a loved one, a very much loved member of their family in recent days.”

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos clears her throat as she pauses during a media briefing on Tuesday.
Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos chokes up during a media briefing about the coronavirus. Source: Nine News

Ms Mikakos added the rising numbers largely in private aged care had been “very, very concerning”, with 86 cases linked to the St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Fawkner in Melbourne’s north.

As of Tuesday there were a total of 769 coronavirus cases in aged care facilities. Of the six new deaths announced on Tuesday, four were connected to aged care homes.

“From last week we have had a distressing situation at St Basil’s ... this is a facility that is very close of course to many members of the Greek community and I know they have been particularly distressed to see the rising toll of deaths as that facility,” she said.

Ms Mikakos then took a moment to recompose herself as she looked down and cleared her throat.

Her voice quivered as she apologised to reporters and reached into her pocket – clearly emotional as she slightly sobbed into the microphones resting on the lectern in front of her.

She then took another pause and deeply exhaled before she continued her briefing.

384 new cases announced in Victoria

The emotional press conference comes as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed 384 new cases and a further six deaths.

The deaths mean the state has recorded 38 fatalities from the virus in just six days and takes the state’s death toll to 83 – almost half of Australia’s 167 COVID-19 deaths.

Mr Andrews on Tuesday said the new deaths were two people in their 90s, three aged in their 80s and one person in their 70s. Four of the six are linked to aged care facilities.

Mr Andrews announced that all non-urgent category two elective surgery will be suspended in metropolitan Melbourne to free up hospital space and staff for at-risk aged care residents.

"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 told reporters.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos takes a deep breath out as she pausing during a press conference on Tuesday.
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos says she is distressed by the number of cases linked to aged care facilities. Source: Nine News

Premier ‘wouldn’t want mum’ in aged care home

When asked if he would be comfortable putting his mother into a private aged care home, Mr Andrews said he would not.

“Some of these stories I have heard are unacceptable and I wouldn’t want my mum in any of these places, I just wouldn’t,” he said.

There are 80 outbreaks and 769 active cases of the virus in private aged care residences.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said there were 88 cases now at Estia Health Aged Care in Ardeer, 86 cases linked to St Basil's Homes for the Aged in Fawkner and 82 cases associated with Epping Gardens.

Seventy-six have been linked to Kirkbrae Presbyterian Homes in Kilsyth, 62 cases linked to Menarock Life in Essendon and 53 connected to Glendale Aged Care in Werribee.

With AAP

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