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Byron Shire
March 4, 2024

NSW COVID update on COVID deaths – vax stats and comorbidities

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NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet again opened his COVID update with condolences to families who have lost loved ones, and thanks to the  ‘inspirational work of our health workers on the frontline each and every day our doctors, our nurses who are doing everything they can to ensure that people are given the care and the support they need in the health care as we move through this phase of the pandemic.

So much gratitude but to date, no mention of the Greens’ NurseKeeper payment to back up the thanks.

Dr Kerry Chant gave a detailed public health update which she said she will continue to do on a Friday.

‘Currently, there are 2,743 people in hospital including 209 people in ICU, of whom 68 are ventilated and eight are on a special treatment called ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation).

‘We’ve got 25,168 positive test results returned, including 10,015 positive RATs and 15,153 positive PCR tests. Of the positive rat tests, we’ve got 8,774 of these positive tests were from the previous seven days. The 15,153 PCR tests were returned from 88,113 PCR tests.

Dr Chant used the opportunity to thank the community for continuing to test and take that proactive action. ‘It is key as we move through this phase that we continue to have those high rates of testing – be it RA testing, or PCR testing, and that people continue to isolate and protect and reduce the community spread.’

Indicators demonstrate the spread of COVID is slowing

Dr Chant said it is pleasing to see that a variety of indicators demonstrate that the spread of COVID is slowing in the community. ‘One single indicator doesn’t tell the whole picture – we look at the hospitalisations, the ICU, staff furloughing, staff absentees and the data from industry, our testing data, our case positivity – that all gives us a sense that the spread of COVID is slowing and it is pleasing to see and I want to thank the community and acknowledge the actions of everyone in contributing to that.’

‘We will still expect to see high death numbers reported over the coming weeks and I just wanted to take a moment to explain why that is the case.

‘There is a significant lag between cases being identified to when we see them get hospitalised and then also flow through, tragically a small number, into deaths. That is the cycle and therefore in this outbreak as in previous outbreaks we expect to see a sort of lag of two to three weeks. So, unfortunately, the death numbers will likely remain high, but my message is that we can turn that around by boosting and getting that booster in with a real sense of urgency.’

Dr Chant said that New South Wales Health is reporting the deaths of 46 people with COVID. ‘There were 33 men and 13 women. Seven of these deaths have been included following the conclusion of the coronial investigations. So seven deaths occurred from the period 29th of December through to the 13th of January.

Northern NSW Local Health District

Locally, the Northern NSW Local Health District reported confirmed 1,051 new cases of COVID-19 in the District to 8pm yesterday, January 20.

They reported one death of a person in their 70s from the Tweed heads area.

There are currently 50 COVID-19 positive patients in hospital in Northern NSW, with six of these in ICU.

  • Ballina 69
  • Byron  64
  • Clarence Valley 62
  • Kyogle 7
  • Lismore 37
  • Richmond Valley 29
  • Tweed 247

COVID death of an infant in New England

Dr Chant also said that there is a report on the death of an infant in Hunter, New England. This infant had COVID and the cause of death has been referred to the coroner. ‘I have spoken with the family and the family are very keen for their privacy to be protected.’

Dr Chant said the Coroner and the forensic pathologists that support the Coroner are working very hard to get the answers that, most importantly the family want, and the clinicians want in terms of this child and the contribution that COVID may or may not have made to its death. ‘Clearly there is a strong public interest in this and we and I’m we’re very committed to making known the outcome of the coronial.

Forty-seven people dead statewide

Of the 47 people who were confirmed to have died in this 24 hour reporting period, Dr Chant said there was one person was aged in their 30s, one was in their 40s, four were in their 50s, eight people were in their 60s, 12 people are in their 70s, 13 people were in their 80s and seven people were in the 90s.

‘Of those, one person had received three doses of the COVID vaccine, 29 had received two doses. Two people had received one dose and 14 were not vaccinated.

‘Of the seven people who died under the age of 65 all were men – two had received two doses of the COVID vaccine and five men were not vaccinated including the men in their 30s and 40s. And both of the men who were vaccinated had significant underlying health conditions, and three of the five men who were not vaccinated had also had significant underlying health conditions and two, including the man in his 30s, did not.’

Dr Chant said that on Fridays NWS Health provide a little bit more of data about the underlying health conditions to give the community more sense of what that means.

Review of death Jauary 15 to 21

‘We have reviewed the deaths that were reported between the 15th and the 20th of January, in those under 65 years of age. So in summary there were 28 deaths in that period, nine females and 19 males. One was in their 20s, two were in their 30s, five were in their 40s, 13 were in their 50s and seven were aged between 60 and 64 years.

‘Of the 28 who died, 14 were not vaccinated with two doses. In reality, 13 were not vaccinated at all and one had had one dose of a vaccine – 12 had two doses, and two had had three doses.’

Dr Chant said this illustrates that while over 90 per cent of the population in all of the age cohorts have received two doses, almost half of the deaths amongst younger people are occurring in those that are not vaccinated. ‘My key message is if you’re under 65, think that your health condition is that you’re not going to have a severe disease, think again, the data is clear please get vaccinated.

We’ve looked at the 24 that had underlying health conditions – 10 had significant heart or valvular disease, six had obesity, six had chronic lung disease, two had asthma, seven had diabetes. Six had significant kidney disease, two had significant rheumatological diseases, three had other autoimmune diseases, four had severe liver disease, four had cancer, five was significantly immunocompromised, one had a significant mental health illness, four had chronic neurological disorders, and one was on a palliative care pathway pre-COVID diagnosis.’

‘My key message is this data and all available scientific evidence that I’ve seen, and the new data emerges every day, confirms the critical importance of a booster dose.’



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