COVID-19 Australia: Child under five dies as NSW records deadliest day yet

Kate PhillipsThe West Australian
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet says he believes the hospital system can cope with the demand. Dean Sewell
Camera IconNSW Premier Dominic Perrottet says he believes the hospital system can cope with the demand. Dean Sewell Credit: Supplied

A young child has died with COVID-19 in NSW as the state recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic so far.

The state reported 18 deaths on Monday, beating its previous record of 16 deaths confirmed just a day earlier, as 20,293 new COVID-19 cases were identified from PCR testing.

NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said the child, who was aged under five and from southwestern Sydney, had significant underlying health conditions and died at home.

She said an unvaccinated eastern Sydney man aged in his 30s died at Prince of Wales Hospital in the same reporting period.

NSW on Sunday surpassed its previous record of 15 deaths set on September 29 and October 1 last year during the Delta outbreak.

NSW has recorded 745 COVID deaths since the pandemic began.

There are now 2030 people in NSW hospitals with the virus, with 159 in intensive care, up from 1927 and 151 patients respectively on Sunday.

COVID Testing + Hospitals
Camera IconThere are now 2030 people in NSW hospitals with the virus. Monique Harmer Credit: News Corp Australia

There were 84,333 PCR tests processed in the latest reporting period, in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday, a decline on recent weeks as people avoid long queues and heed government pleas to take rapid antigen tests where possible.

Dr Chant said Monday’s case numbers were “clearly an underestimate” as people transitioned to rapid antigen testing (RAT).

Premier Dominic Perrottet has said people in his state will be able to log their positive rapid test results through Service NSW from Wednesday.

This will see NSW follow Queensland and Victoria in counting rapid tests in the daily COVID-19 tally and give a much more accurate indication of the case numbers and infection rate.

Recorded case numbers are likely to increase dramatically once NSW begins logging RAT results, in line with Victoria’s big jump in cases late last week.

NSW hospitals remain under significant pressure with high numbers of hospitalisations and the loss of many medical staff to COVID-19 isolation requirements.

Mr Perrottet has said the state is in for a “difficult few weeks” with cases expected to climb even higher.

New infections in the Omicron fuelled outbreak are expected to peak in the third or fourth week of January before they begin to decline next month, according to government modelling.

Mr Perrottet, chief health officer Kerry Chant, NSW Health deputy secretary Susan Pearce and chief paediatrician Matt O’Meara are due to speak to the media at 10am.

Australia’s coronavirus vaccine rollout for five to 11-year-old children began on Monday.

Of the over 16 population in NSW, 93.7 per cent are double-dose vaccinated while 95.1 per cent have had at least one shot.

Victoria records 34,808 COVID-19 cases

Victoria has recorded 34,808 new Covid infections as the rampant spread of the virus across the state continues.

Monday’s figures also reveal two more people have died.

About half of the new cases came from rapid antigen tests, which are be recorded online, and the rest from traditional PCR testing.

The new case figure is down on the 44,155 reported on Sunday but the number of people in hospital with Covid has risen from 752 to 818.

The health department said 118 people were in ICU which included both active cases and those who have been cleared of the virus – 28 of those people were ventilated, which was five more than Sunday.

The figures come after Victoria’s Covid Commander said rapid antigen tests were not being handed out “like lollies” and insisted authorities were “not collecting data for the hell of it” as he sought to provide further clarity on the system on Sunday,

Jeroen Weimar said as people presented at testing sites, based on their contact status and clinical symptoms, a decision would be made as to whether they were offered a RAT or PCR test.

“We’re not opening up palettes of rapid antigen tests and handing them out like lollies,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“We are asking people who have symptoms and recording basic data. This is still a controlled and clinically managed process.”

About 30,000 free testing kits were given to people who attended testing sites across Victoria on Saturday.

Meanwhile Australia’s struggling hospitality and service industries were described as being “hammered” and were desperate for support from the state and federal governments.

Businesses across NSW and Victoria were “bleeding cash” as hundreds of thousands of customers and workers were either forced into isolation because they either have the virus or required testing because they were deemed a close contact.

MELBOURNE LOCKDOWN
Camera IconCovid cases dropped in Victoria overnight but more people were hospitalised. NCA NewsWire / David Crosling Credit: News Corp Australia

But tests RATs were hard to come by.

In extreme circumstances, some residents are even refusing to leave the house other than when absolutely necessary in a self-imposed lockdown over fears of catching the virus.

The hospitality sector has warned some businesses won’t be able to hold on much longer under the current conditions.

NSW recorded 20,293 Covid cases on Monday which was a drop on previous days where case numbers exceeded 30,000.

Tasmania records 1218 new COVID-19 cases

Tasmania has recorded 1218 new COVID-19 cases, with the number of people being treated in hospital for virus symptoms rising to 11.

The fresh cases, made up of 821 reported positive rapid antigen tests and 397 PCR tests, take the island state’s number of active infections to 7917.

Eleven people are being treated in hospital specifically for COVID-19 symptoms, an increase on the four patients reported on Sunday. None are in intensive care.

Six positive cases are in hospital for unrelated medical conditions.

Tasmania’s reported daily case numbers have fallen in recent days from 2223 on Saturday and 1406 on Sunday.

There are 231 people utilising the COVID-at-home care method, while 55 people are staying at a community management facility.

Education Minister Sarah Courtney has said the state government is considering asking school students to wear masks in the classroom when term one begins in early February.

ACT records 938 new COVID-19 cases

The ACT has recorded 938 new COVID-19 cases but the number of people in hospital remains low.

As at 8pm on Sunday, January 9 there were 25 people in hospital with the virus including four people in intensive care and three requiring ventilators.

The new cases come from 5187 tests.

The territory, one of the most vaccinated jurisdictions in the nation, had reported 1305 cases on Saturday and 1039 cases on Sunday.

So far, 98.5 per cent of ACT residents aged 12 and over are fully vaccinated with two doses, while 22.5 per cent of those aged 18 and over have received their booster shot.

Queensland reports 9581 new COVID

Queensland has reported 9581 new COVID infections, a lower daily figure that does not included data from four private testing clinics.

There are 419 people in hospital – up from 402 – while the number of people in intensive care has dropped from 22 to 21 people.

The Gold Coast is responsible for 11 people in intensive care, with six unvaccinated.

Seven people statewide are on ventilators.

Monday’s update comes as the state government cops heat for pushing the start of the school year back by two weeks to avoid sending kids out into the peak of the Omicron wave.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk at the weekend said it was a “sensible and logical” move to push back the start of term one back to February 7 for kids in prep through to year 10, noting the move gave parents more time to get their children vaccinated.

Pfizer shots for kids aged 5 to 11 began in Queensland on Monday.

However, infectious diseases expert Dr Nick Coatsworth said Ms Palaszczuk had made the wrong move, saying “no state should delay the return to school”.

“Every government and medical expert in this country needs to follow the lead of the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children’s Fund which both state that schools should be the last to close and the first to open,” the former deputy chief medical officer said.

“We are not in a situation in Australia that requires a delay to school opening.

CASE-BY-CASE BREAKDOWN:

NSW - 20,293 new COVID-19 cases

VIC - 34,808 new COVID-19 cases

ACT - 938 new COVID-19 cases

NT - TBA

WA - TBA

QLD - 9851 new COVID-19 cases

SA - TBA

TAS - 1218 new COVID-19 cases

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