Minister consoles Vic families of the dead

A federal minister has spoken to the grieving families of COVID-19 victims who died in Victoria.
A federal minister has spoken to the grieving families of COVID-19 victims who died in Victoria.

Up to 100 relatives of elderly people who died in Victoria nursing homes have held an emotional call with the federal aged care minister.

Richard Colbeck described the Zoom call on Thursday night as "pretty grim".

"They were obviously upset, they were distressed, some of them were angry, they were looking for answers about some of the events that had occurred," he told Nine's Today show.

More reports have emerged of bodies being left in beds for hours, relatives having to say their final farewells to parents and grandparents over the phone, or not even getting the chance to say goodbye.

Senator Colbeck said he was sorry for what the Victorian families were going through.

The minister pointed to shortages of aged care workers in the state after more than 400 became infected with the virus.

Labor aged care spokeswoman Julie Collins said the government was poorly prepared for the Victorian outbreak.

"We had the federal minister for ageing apologise to some of the residents and their families for some of the situations in Victoria - the federal government I think is starting to realise that it should have known better and it did have some prior warnings and it should have been better prepared," she said.

Training in the use of protective equipment and infection control should be improved, she said.

"We're still hearing reports on the ground that, as late as two days ago, people did not have access to the personal protection equipment they need to go about their jobs day by day," Ms Collins said.

Victoria recorded 627 new cases on Friday, with eight dying from disease - four in aged care - taking the national tally to 197.

Australian Defence Force medics have been sent in to plug some gaps in Victorian nursing home rosters.

The federal government has oversight of privately operated nursing homes across the country.

Australian Associated Press