'Help us': Doctor's emotional plea as terrifying Covid statistic revealed

·News Reporter
·4-min read

A Sydney doctor has pleaded for people to get vaccinated as she revealed an alarming 25 per cent of patients in the ICU are aged younger than 40.

Dr Nhi Nguyen, from Nepean Hospital, told reporters on Monday, as 818 new cases were recorded in the state, she and her colleagues have been “worried” by the number of younger people falling seriously ill with coronavirus.

“They are staying in intensive care for longer, and they are needing care that cannot be provided anywhere else on the wards,” Dr Nguyen said.

“There are those who are on breathing machines and on heart and lung machines.

“What is really worrying is the number of young patients who are coming in. Up to 25 per cent have been less than 40.

“Our nurses and doctors provide the best and compassionate care, and we need your help.”

Dr Nhi Nguyen speaks during a COVID-19 update and press conference on in Sydney, Australia.
Dr Nhi Nguyen from Nepean Hospital said 25 per cent of people in NSW ICUs with Covid are under the age of 40. Source: Getty Images

She urged people between the ages of 16 and 39 to get vaccinated and emphasised the importance of this to young people in Sydney’s southwest.

Earlier this month, Sydney man Aude Alaskar died from Covid-19. He was only 27.

Covid-19 was first believed to be a virus which only affected the elderly but startlingly this theory has been proven wrong.

Victorian Covid-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar told reporters on Monday a baby is among those in the state’s hospitals being treated for the virus.

With 21 of the 29 people hospitalised for Covid under the age of 50 in Victoria, almost a quarter of active cases are in children under the age of 10.

"We have examples of children collapsing at school and vomiting at school, that is how ill they are," he said.

A girl adjusts her mask as she waits in a queue for Covid-19 coronavirus vaccination in Sydney.
A girl adjusts waits in a queue for a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccination in Sydney. Source: Getty Images

Calls for children to get vaccinated

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant last week said children aged 12 to 15 should be vaccinated “very quickly”.

Professor Jaya Dantas from Curtin University's School of Population Health told Yahoo News Australia it was evident children were now playing a key role in Delta outbreaks.

Professor Dantas said other nations such as the US have vaccinated over 40 per cent of their children aged 12 to 15, and Australia must follow suit and ensure they are not left behind.

However she said it ultimately came down to supply, and advice on the age group has been delayed thanks to Australia being behind throughout the vaccine rollout.

"It's a huge problem," Professor Dantas said.

A young skateboarder uses the Bondi Beach skatepark pre-dawn in Sydney, Australia.
A boy goes for a pre-dawn skate at Bondi Beach. Source: Getty Images

The 'epidemic of young people'

So, why are children being affected by this wave more than they were in the first? Part of the blame has been thrown at a sluggish vaccine rollout. Many people aged between 16-39 have not been able to access vaccines until recently.

Professor Greg Dore, an infectious diseases doctor with St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, told The Guardian the current wave facing NSW is “an epidemic of younger people” due to the “higher impact of vaccine coverage in older populations”. He cited the UK as an example of this.

The poor rollout has also been exacerbated by confusing messaging about the AstraZeneca vaccine.

A woman wearing a face mask takes a photo of her dog with the Opera House in the background in Sydney, Australia.
A woman takes a photo of her dog at Sydney Harbour. Source: Getty Images

On Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced those aged above 16 would be eligible for Pfizer from August 30.

There has also been concern about sending children back into the classroom during a Delta outbreak.

Epidemiologist Dr Zoë Hyde tweeted that sending kids back into the classroom with the Delta variant “is one of the worst things you can do”.

“Schools are a major driver of community transmission,” Dr Hyde tweeted.

“School closures were the most effective intervention to slow the first wave of Covid-19.

“This doesn’t mean school closures are desirable, since they are associated with harms, but it does show mitigation measures are required in schools if they stay open.”

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