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同路人語 616

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維州及聯邦政府不能逃避責任                                 周偉文  社長
維州老人院內疫情爆發,成為了全國焦點。維州州長安德魯斯表示不少私營老人院管理不善,是聯邦政府的責任,州政府能做的不多。聯邦工黨表示老人院爆發反映整個行業的內在問題,要求皇家調查委員會跟進。這些都是不負責任的說法。疫症三月在歐洲多國爆發,死亡比例全球最高,因為病毒在老人院中傳開了,多個國家醫療系統無法承擔而崩潰了,甚至要選擇性地救治長者。現時已知年齡70以上的感染者死亡率極高,也明白沒有一個國家的醫療系統,能有效處理大批長者感染的情況,所以每一個國家都要盡最大力量,防止病毒進入老人院。澳洲在疫症開始時,不少老人院都限制及禁止親友探訪,並要申報健康狀況及探熱檢測等,算是做得不錯。
然而, 維州老人院感染者,在最近兩週內以驚人速度增加。周二時維州政府公佈老人院舍有769名長者受感染而護理人員則仍有775名檢測呈陽性。長者及照顧者在院舍內緊密生活,一旦其中有人受感染,互相傳染的機會極高。護理者受感染後要隔離14天,更影響到老人院服務的維持。聯邦政府已調動軍隊內的護理員及別的州份護理工作者來維州支援,盼望能化解這一個危機。
長者們受感染甚至死亡,不少家人也受到影響。 有人因為父母或祖父母在最後的日子,要孤獨面對死亡,無法相伴他們走完人生路而自責,也有人因為事發突然而內心感到遺憾及難過。亦有人覺得院舍沒有做好防疫安排而引致家人離世,內心充滿憤怒。
不過,我相信聯邦政府及州政府,其實在有足夠時間準備下,沒有做好預防及監管營運者,亦要負上責任。有指出老人院內欠缺防護衣及對工作者沒有足夠培訓,確是聯邦政府失職。而州政府衛生部門沒有加強抽查及協助老人院提升防疫安排,及限制護理者只能在一家老人院工作,而令到因為護理人員把病毒在老人院舍中互相傳播,亦是責無旁貸。
照顧長者是社會的重要責任,病毒在社區擴散,進入老人院是無法避免。不過,維州及聯邦政府沒有做到最好亦是事實。政客們絕不應該互相推搪責任了事,而是要實事求事去回應問題,才能得到國民的支持。

 

Both the State and Federal governments are to take responsibility

Raymond Chow,  Publisher
Covid-19 outbreak in Victorian private elderly homes has been a hot issue. Premier Andrew claimed the problem is with the federal government out of his hands. Federal Labor Party demands for a public enquiry by the Royal Commission on the long standing problem of this industry.
This pandemic started in Europe since March and mortality rate started to climb there as when many elderly homes were hit making the infected residents as victims to breakdowns of their national medical systems.
Over the past two weeks the spread of virus in Victorian elderly homes has been swift. As reported on Tuesday a total of 769 elderly were infected and 775 caring staff were tested positive, as they mingle closely inside the same institutes making cross infection unavoidable. To guarantee the health workers for 14 days isolation would adversely affect the daily operation of the hostels. The federal government has deployed ADF healthcare personnel together with support from other states hoping to tackle this crisis.
Many families would be impacted with every elderly infected or died, in a sudden and mostly on their own. Many children and grandchildren could deeply feel guilty, regretted and heart-broken. Some also pointed finger to the unsatisfactory measures of the nursing homes.
I think both the state and federal governments should be held accountable for not having done enough on preparing and monitoring on the elderly facilities even given with prior warning. It is the federal government’s responsibility to provide adequate PPE and training to healthcare staff. It is the state government’s job to enforce health inspection check and promote virus prevention on the premises. It is also important to regulate staff duty roster such that spreading would not happen across different hostels.
A vital social responsibility is to take care of the elderly. A community spread of the virus into elderly homes is not unexpected, but we expect better response from the government. To address the public, politicians cannot just pass the bucks without acting responsively.

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