Doctors have raised concerns about NSW’s “hospital in the home” Covid treatment system, after 13 people died at home of the virus since August 1.
Welcome to our coverage of Australia’s Covid-19 situation.
Millions of residents are anxiously awaiting today’s case numbers, after Victoria reported 334 new infections and NSW reported 1542 new cases on Friday.
And Queenslanders are bracing for further cases after the Sunshine State recorded two new community cases. The first was in a 13-year-old Brisbane student who had been out in the community while infectious, sending a Sunnybank high school into lockdown. The second, identified late last night, was a close family friend of the girl who works at Brisbane’s Griffith University.
The nervous wait comes as large parts of regional and rural NSW left lockdown, with a long list of freedoms now afforded to people in areas that haven’t seen a new Covid-19 case in 14 days.
Follow below for today’s top updates. Just make sure you keep refreshing the page for the latest news.
‘Concerning’ factor in 13 Covid deaths
Doctors have raised concerns about NSW’s “hospital in the home” Covid treatment system, after 13 people died at home of the virus since August 1, including two announced on Friday.
One in 12 of the 162 Covid-related deaths this outbreak have now occurred at home, with six in the past week.
A specialist who works in the public system, who spoke to The Daily Telegraph on the condition of anonymity, said patients can deteriorate rapidly with Covid and the “hospital in the home system” – which relies on doctors phoning the patient each day – could not cater for that.
“We have had two deaths at Nepean where the doctor has spoken to them in the morning and the patient suddenly died that afternoon,” he said.
“It is quite concerning because hospital in the home is teleconference medicine and to get full grasp of a patient you need to see them. A lot of patients won’t admit they are unwell because they do not want to come to hospital, because they have fear. So the deaths have been quite sudden and in the younger age group.”
According to NSW Health, the role of the system “is to provide hospital-level patient-centred care that can safely and effectively be delivered at home to keep patients out of hospital”.
But “a lot” of doctors who have been asked to partake in the hospital in the home system “have refused because they think it is unsafe”, the specialist told The Daily Telegraph.
“Nepean has about 800 patients managed in hospital in the home and as they deteriorate they are slowly being brought into the hospital,” he said.
“The problem with Covid is we find the patients are sick for about two weeks and then they suddenly drop their bundle. With those who are young and died suddenly, we have to wait for the coroner, but some have had health problems, like cardiac problems.”
South Australia to offer Pfizer to all age groups
South Australia will become the first state to offer the Pfizer vaccine to all age groups – with the jab offered to every resident aged 12 and over from Monday.
Bookings will open from 9am and an extra 60,000 appointments have been added to cater for an expected demand surge, The Advertiser reports.
Those aged 60 and over, who were previously only eligible for AstraZeneca, will only be able to access the Pfizer jab at SA Health clinics. Those who have already had one dose of AZ will not be able to get Pfizer as their second dose.
The move to open up the vaccine to everyone will be crucial in overcoming vaccine hesitancy, particularly in the state’s vulnerable age groups.
Chief health officer Nicola Spurrier acknowledged the hesitancy in the 60-plus age group, reminding the unvaccinated that “at some point soon” SA would look at lift its interstate border restrictions.
“We know there has been some hesitancy in the community in people aged over 60, with just over 40 per cent of 60 to 69-year-olds fully vaccinated,” Professor Spurrier told the paper.
“However, I would like to personally thank all of this age group who have received AstraZeneca as soon as they could, as it is also an excellent, highly effective vaccine.
“Those who are unvaccinated, particularly in that age group, remain vulnerable to Covid-19 and, as many are away, at some point soon we are looking to lift border restrictions with other jurisdictions.”
Thousands of NSW residents exit lockdown
Thousands of residents across parts of regional NSW that haven’t seen a Covid-19 case in 14 days have exited lockdown.
In what Deputy Premier John Barilaro earlier described as a “bittersweet day” for the state, people throughout the Mid-North Coast, the north coast, the northwest, Albury, Riverina and Murrumbidgee and other “parts of regional NSW” deemed “low risk” will no longer have to abide by the stay-at-home orders.
Mr Barilaro stressed that for those areas coming out of lockdown, “you are not coming back to a pre-lockdown environment”.
“There will be capacity limits for our hotels, cafes and restaurants, including the four-square-metre rule, mask-wearing, social distancing. There is rules around certain activities that won’t recommence,” he said.
“Community sport won’t be permitted yet. The opportunity [is] to get back to retail shopping, back to work, back to enjoying time with family and friends. It is still a restricted environment.”
Originally published as Live Breaking News: ‘Concerning’ factor in 13 NSW Covid deaths