1290 cases and four deaths in NSW, nurses 'knocking out' ICU patients to cope with influx

Author
news.com.au,
Publish Date
Mon, 30 Aug 2021, 1:46PM
Sydney has been in lockdown since late June. (Photo / Getty Images)
Sydney has been in lockdown since late June. (Photo / Getty Images)

1290 cases and four deaths in NSW, nurses 'knocking out' ICU patients to cope with influx

Author
news.com.au,
Publish Date
Mon, 30 Aug 2021, 1:46PM

New South Wales has recorded 1290 new local cases of Covid-19, setting yet another record of new daily cases for the state and for Australia.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said more than 80 per cent of the new cases were reported in western and south-western Sydney.

Four Covid-related deaths were also reported by NSW Health: a man in his 50s, a woman in her 60s, and two men in their 70s. The death toll in the current outbreak is now 93.

There are currently 840 Covid-19 cases admitted to hospital in NSW, with 137 people in intensive care, 48 of whom require ventilation.

Since the Sydney outbreak began in mid-June, there have been 20,061 local cases reported, and the skyrocketing number of infections is putting enormous strain on the city's health system.

Desperate intensive care nurses in Sydney are now reportedly "knocking out" their patients with sedatives so they can handle the increasing number of patients ending up in ICU, according to a concerning new report.

Two ICU nurses from Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred and St Vincent's hospitals told The Guardian that their facilities are under immense pressure with the rising caseload and diminishing staff numbers.

They said that increasing sedative dosage is the safest way they can manage their patient load.

They oversee the infusion of sedatives and administer varying levels within a certain dose range prescribed by a doctor, but decisions have been made to increase sedation to the maximum allowed dose "to knock the patient out" so they can keep all their patients safe.

Neither hospital commented on the reports. Royal Prince Alfred hospital acknowledged it was currently a "challenging time" for the hospital, with surge workforce plans in place, while St Vincent's said its ICU is "well resourced".

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said today October will be the greatest challenge for the state.

"October is likely to be our worse month in terms of pressure on the [health] system and that is why we have gearing up for that," she said. "But if the majority of the population is vaccinated, the majority of those cases will not need to be in hospital, and that is why it is important to focus on those numbers to ensure our hospital system is not overwhelmed."

Berejiklian confirmed yesterday more than 830,000 people were vaccinated in the past week, with 35 per cent of all adults in NSW now fully vaccinated, halfway to the 70 per cent target required to loosen lockdown restrictions.

"We are halfway to that magic 70 per cent number across the state in order to have those extra freedoms," she said, predicting that the target would be met "somewhere in October".

Vaccinating 70 per cent of the eligible population in NSW will mean only 56 per cent of the whole population are vaccinated, and health experts have warned against easing restrictions too soon.

"We can only 'live with Covid' when the number of infections has stabilised, when infections are readily contained by contact tracing and case numbers do not unduly pressure our hospitals," wrote immunologist John Dwyer in the Sydney Morning Herald last week.

"States other than NSW have accepted this approach. There is no such thing as a guarantee that a certain percentage of vaccinations will create this situation."

Victoria

Victoria has recorded 73 new local cases of Covid-19, down from yesterday's 92 cases, which was the highest spike in daily infections since September 2 last year.

Of the new cases recorded today, 21 were not linked to existing cases.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said yesterday that the current lockdown, which was initially planned to end on Thursday, will be extended indefinitely.

"We still have too many cases that are in the community for too long for us to be able to open up," he said.

"We acted early but I'm not here to tell people this is easy, it's not, it's bloody hard."

State opposition leader Michael O'Brien told The Herald Sun the state was being held hostage while Andrews pursued an elimination strategy.

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra told the same publication there needed to be a realistic way out of the lockdowns.

He said this could include reopening municipalities that were Covid-free, 24-hour vaccination hubs and kids back at school when vaccination rates hit 60 per cent.

At Friday's press conference, Health Minister Martin Foley was asked if the state was doomed to be in lockdown until vaccination rates reached 70 or 80 per cent.

"I don't know about that but I know there will be public health measures as there have been for the past 18 months," Foley responded.

"All the Victorian community [needs] to follow the rules and make sure that we get out of the hard lockdown as quick as we can."

The Delta outbreak in Victoria now stands at a total of 1397 cases.

Of the eligible population, 33.9 per cent have been fully vaccinated while 55.3 per cent have received their first dose.