Kerry Chant warns of risk of death as number of teens in ICU rises

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Health authorities have warned Covid-19 deaths across NSW will continue to rise amid concerns over the number of teenagers currently admitted to intensive care units.

NSW on Wednesday recorded a record high of 633 cases of the virus and three deaths as the state continues its battle against the Delta variant.

More than 460 people have been admitted to hospital, with 77 people in intensive care. A further 25 require ventilation.

Chief health officer Kerry Chant warned those admitted to hospital had a “real and material risk of death”.

“We have people in their teens, in their 20s, in their 30s, in their 40s, in their 50s, in their 60s, in their 70s and in their 80s, and we know that for every one of those individuals in ICU, particularly those in the older age groups, they have a real and material risk of death,” Dr Chant said.

“We will see more admissions and more deaths if these numbers continue to increase.”

She also expressed concern the vaccination coverage across the state was far too low, and said she was eager to get teenagers vaccinated as soon as possible.

“I firmly believe that we need to get in and vaccinate our 12 to 15-year-olds at the moment,” she said.

“I’ll await the advice around that. We do vaccinate children with underlying conditions down to that level.

“I think that we are watching internationally the evidence around younger children, but I think that given the transmission of Delta, it may well be that in future we do provide vaccines in the younger age groups.

“I think we need to respect the scientific approach, but as I said personally, I believe that we will be doing school – you know, targeting school-aged children, particularly the high school children, very quickly because we know they do contribute to transmission.”

Data from NSW Health revealed those aged 19 and under were the most affected group in the current Delta outbreak, with more than double the amount of cases than in the next highest age bracket.

Wednesday’s total was the largest ever daily total recorded in the state. Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned the worst was still to come.

“What the data is telling us in the last few days is that we haven’t seen the worst of it,” she said.

There have now been 60 deaths linked to the Delta outbreak that began in June.

Dr Chant confirmed that each person infected was passing the virus to more than one person.

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