The Australian prime minister admitted on Friday that the country’s aged care sector is in crisis as it struggles with COVID-19 outbreaks.

“I want to thank everybody for the incredible work they’re doing to keep those in our care in the best possible care we can provide in a crisis,” Scott Morrison told reporters in Mulgrave, Victoria.

“I know that’s not a comfort to those who have those in aged care, but at the same time, it is the fact that we will continue doing everything we can,” he added.

According to the state-run ABC News, as many as 777 aged care residents have died of coronavirus since last July, and around 500 of those deaths occurred last month.

His remarks came after Lynelle Briggs, a senior aged care royal commissioner, said the system was in crisis due to the federal government’s failure to prepare for the pandemic.

She said it was “completely unacceptable” that elderly people had been isolated in their rooms for months without regular showers and care.

“What we’re looking at in aged care is months on end with no-one visiting them, and sometimes dying alone,” Briggs said. “It really shouldn’t be allowed to happen and the government should have sorted its strategy out for how to prevent this happening again.”

Morrison said he asked the ministers of defense, and health and aged care “to work together to further progress plans that could see how the Defense Forces can further support.”

Of the 60,000 members in the defense force, half are in the reserves and many are already working in the health sector, he added.

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