Nineteen people have died in that outbreak after contracting COVID-19 but two of the deaths were attributed to other causes.
“In Victoria, we consider a single case in a nursing home an outbreak,” Dr van Diemen said. “We decided quite early on we didn’t want to wait for a second case.”
Australian states outside of Victoria wait for at least two COVID-19 cases to emerge in aged care homes before declaring it an outbreak and rolling out contract tracing and strict quarantine measures.
A total of six new coronavirus cases were reported in Victoria on Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 1573. The new cases included a returned traveller who tested positive while in quarantine and one infection linked to the Cedar Meats abattoir outbreak, which has so far produced 100 cases.
An elderly resident at the Lynden Aged Care Facility in Camberwell in the city’s east is being treated in isolation in a metropolitan hospital after testing positive to the virus.
A resident from HammondCare in Caulfield in Melbourne’s south-east also tested positive to the virus, before testing negative in a follow-up. This case was still being treated as a positive case by authorities.
“A subsequent negative test doesn’t negate the first positive test,” Dr van Diemen said.
Another two elderly residents showing signs of the virus at separate MiCare aged units in Kilsyth in Melbourne’s east were also tested.
MiCare said one resident of its Margriet Manor facility and another at its neighbouring Overbeek Lodge were being cared for in isolation while they awaited test results.
MiCare’s executive director Petra Neeleman said a lockdown had been enforced as a precautionary measure.
A resident at the Villa Maria Care Homes facility in Bundoora was also sent to hospital with a high temperature over the weekend and returned an inconclusive test result.
The Health Department said the facility would remain in lockdown until the resident returned two more negative tests.
Dr van Diemen said extensive measures were being undertaken at aged care homes, including increased testing, temperature screening and ongoing visitor restrictions, with elderly Australians at a far heightened risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.
“There is a huge amount being undertaken to prevent spread and infection,” she said.
Aged and Community Services Australia chief executive Pat Sparrow said nursing homes “were the new front line” in the COVID-19 pandemic.
“At the absolute core of this is the need for us to stay vigilant and protect older people,” Ms Sparrow said. “Really, we are the new front line of this. We know that it often can have a terrible outcome when it gets in to aged care homes.”
Lynden Aged Care in Camberwell sent out a letter to families on Tuesday informing them that a resident had been diagnosed with COVID-19, prompting the nursing home to shut its doors as residents isolate in their rooms.
Angela Raguz, general manager of residential care at HammondCare said the home’s first priority was caring for the resident who tested positive and protecting the 11 other residents they lived with in the dementia cottage.
Family visits were not believed to be the source of the possible infection, she said.
There have been two other reports of coronavirus infections in aged care homes in Victoria, both in late March.
They involved a staff member at the Assisi Centre in Rosanna and a doctor who visited Carlton’s Rathdowne Place.
In NSW, coronavirus-related deaths in aged care homes have accounted for more than one-third of the state’s overall tally.
Lynden Age Care declined to comment when contacted by The Age.
A previous version of this story said the four nursing homes had each returned a positive test result. This was incorrect.
Melissa Cunningham is The Age’s health reporter.
Rachel is a breaking news reporter for The Age.