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Rapid Antigen Tests: Cases tear through Melbourne aged care facility after dodgy results

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A big issue with RATS has been exposed by a worrying spread of cases in Melbourne, as Australia’s health watchdog looks into complaints.

A big issue with rapid antigen tests has been exposed by a worrying spread of cases in a Melbourne aged care facility — as Australia’s health watchdog looks into a number of complaints about the kits from across the nation.

More than 20 aged care residents tested positive in the Twin Parks Aged Care Centre in Reservoir — where staff have highlighted inaccurate results from the highly sought-after tests.

The outbreak comes amid an explosion in cases in aged care homes nationally.

Today it was revealed Prime Minister Scott Morrison will deploy members of the Australian Defence Force to help assist nursing homes with staff shortages caused by surging Omicron cases.

However, staff at Twin Parks — which saw more than 20 residents dying during Melbourne’s second wave — believe their current outbreak could have been avoided.

It’s understood the outbreak began with two infected residents, described as “extremely active” within the Twin Parks community.

Close contacts of the pair were given multiple rapid tests but many registered negative results.

According to an email seen 9 NEWS, a decision was then made to give all residents in the home’s West Wing a PCR test, the results alarmingly revealing at least 20 residents had contracted the virus.

Twin Parks said residents had been tested with two different brands of RATs to confirm their diagnosis, but they provided conflicting results.

The home has had issues previously, with one email in December highlighting the inaccuracy of the tests.

“These tests are not particularly reliable, given our positive staff member tested negative on multiple RATs in the last week,” it read.

Australia’s health watchdog has received more than 100 complaints about rapid antigen tests, with consumers raising concerns about false positives and negatives, invalid results and missing parts.

Associate Professor David Anderson, deputy director of the Burnet Institute, told the Sydney Morning Herald the tests were a useful screening tool that provided quick results, but they gave people a false sense of security.

He said they detected about 80 per cent of infections among people with symptoms.

“That still means they are missing 20 per cent,” he said. “That leads to a false sense of security … that’s the biggest negative.”

He said the tests did not detect Covid-19 for one to two days after a person became infected and negative results did not guarantee a person was not infectious.

PM sends troops to aged care homes

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will deploy members of the Australian Defence Force to help assist nursing homes with staff shortages caused by surging Omicron cases.

Mr Morrison said up to 10 teams of ADF personnel would give “targeted support” in aged care, where nursing homes were facing “extreme situations”.

The teams will include a registered nurse, medical technicians and other personnel to provide general support.

“They have provided quite targeted support into the aged care sector in extreme situations, some of the most difficult situations,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“A majority of those are clinical support because that’s the resource available … it’s a targeted bespoke effort.”

In total, up to 1700 defence force personnel will be deployed.

The decision, announced after a high-level meeting of the national security committee, comes after weeks of pressure on the Prime Minister to deploy the ADF to assist the stressed workforce.

He eventually made the extraordinary statement that the sector was in crisis.

But Mr Morrison pushed back on claims he could acted sooner to alleviate pressure in the sector.

“The idea that the defence forces can come in and just replace all of the shifts that are lost because people have Covid … is just not realistic,” he said.

“And that was never a scenario or an option that was under consideration because it’s just simply not feasible.”

Read related topics:Melbourne



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