Covid 19 coronavirus: Sydney ICU nurses under strain, Victoria records 73 cases

Desperate intensive care nurses in Sydney are 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.

It comes as the city’s health system is being put under strain from skyrocketing Covid cases.

On Sunday, there were 813 Covid patients in hospitals across NSW, 35 more than Saturday and 256 more than the previous Sunday. There are now 126 people in intensive care, with 54 on ventilators.

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 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.

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