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COVID-19 positive patients are delaying medical treatment leading to tragic consequences, with some people “presenting to hospital severely unwell and sometimes dead”, NSW Health officials have warned.
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant on Friday issued a plea for people with the virus to seek urgent care immediately by coming forward for testing or calling an ambulance.
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant on Friday.Credit:James Brickwood
“I am struck by the tragedy of it. We know that with COVID-19 you can deteriorate quickly,” Dr Chant said. “Our health services are among the best in the world and we provide good care. I want to reassure the community will be treated with dignity and respect. Obviously there will be infection control, procedures put to keep staff safe … but we also will accommodate your needs and your wishes.”
The state reported 170 new local coronavirus cases on Friday, with the status of 93 under investigation, the fifth day in a row that the majority of cases are unlinked. It takes the number of mystery cases in the outbreak to more than 830 spread across almost 30 local government areas. The majority are in Fairfield and Canterbury-Bankstown but stretch as far as Penrith and the northern beaches.
NSW Health data for the week ending July 26 shows contact tracers are taking longer to interview infectious people, with 67 per cent of cases interviewed within the first 24 hours of being notified, down from 95 per cent the week before. About 60 per cent of people entered isolation within one day of noticing symptoms.
The report reveals 915 healthcare staff were on COVID-19 leave for the two weeks ending July 18, up from about 225 in the pervious fortnight.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said there are “some families, particularly in south-west Sydney and western Sydney, that are remaining at home when they have symptoms and not coming out and getting tested.”
“Very sadly, we are seeing more families coming in with a family member who is presenting not alive but dead. That is a terrible situation,” said Minister Hazzard. “Can I say to those families, our government, the NSW government is perhaps not like the government that you have lived under overseas. We are here to support you and our health system is here to support you.
“If you have any symptoms at all, please, come and get tested. If someone is sick, bring them to the hospital. Ring ahead and bring them in, we are there to help you. Do not set at home and worry about the fact you have done anything wrong.”
There are 187 COVID cases in hospital with 58 in intensive care and 24 whom required ventilation.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Health Minister Brad Hazzard.Credit:James Brickwood
Dr Chant said that elderly people will “bear the brunt” of COVID-19 unless vaccination rates improve, adding that one dose of the vaccine alone can reduce an individual’s risk of hospitalisation and death.
“We need to get those vaccines up. While the advice is for anyone over 18 to consider AstraZeneca, the fact is we haven’t got levels of coverage high enough in the elderly,” she said.
The majority of the 13 deaths recorded in the current outbreak have been in those aged in their 80s and 90s.
The Australian Defence Force will be brought in to enforce the public health order in Sydney after NSW Police formally requested its assistance on Thursday. Three hundred troops will door-knock homes of people who have tested positive to COVID-19 and those deemed to be close contacts.
There were more than 95,000 people tested during the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday.
There have been 2980 locally acquired cases reported since 16 June, when the first case in
the Bondi cluster was reported. About 77 per cent of people aged over 70 in NSW have had their first vaccine dose and about 40 per cent are fully inoculated.
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