NSW Covid outbreak: death toll rises as two-thirds of 210 new cases under 40

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<span>Photograph: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

The death toll from the New South Wales coronavirus outbreak has risen to 14 after the death of a man at his home in south-west Sydney.

The news came as NSW reported 210 new locally acquired cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, two-thirds of whom were people under 40.

The health minister, Brad Hazzard, said it was not clear whether the man, who was in his 60s, had been tested in the lead-up to the death.

“What we are seeing, and it is a terrible situation, is that families for a variety of reasons, particularly in the south-west, are not coming forward when one of their number is ill,” Hazzard said.

Related: Queensland Covid lockdown: ‘enormous number’ of hotspots expected after six new cases

“Why is it happening? There [are] a variety of reasons. One postulation that was put to me yesterday by people on the ground there was that people are worried about their income.”

Of the 210 locally acquired cases detected in NSW since 8pm on Friday, up to 152 people may have been active in the community while infectious. Of these, 21 are known to have been infectious, 11 were in isolation for part of their infectious period and the status of the 120 others is unknown.

A total of 138 of the new cases were people under 40.

“The older age brackets are actually having less numbers now,” Hazzard said. “It is the younger people who are actually taking up places in our intensive care units in our hospitals.

“At the moment we have 11 people in intensive care who are all 40 years old or under. That is extremely concerning.”

Of the 53 people in intensive care, six are in their 20s, four are in their 30s, one is in their 40s, 18 are in their 50s, 14 are in their 60s, nine are in their 70s and one is in their 80s. There are 203 people in hospital with Covid-19 in NSW. Twenty-seven are ventilated.

Eighty-one people tested positive in the south-western Sydney local health district and 72 in the western Sydney LHD.

Hazzard said the growing number of Covid cases had put pressure on the state’s healthcare systems and led to the suspension of non-urgent elective surgery.

“Each time there is a positive case that comes in, for example, to an emergency department or intensive care unit, quite a number of staff have to be taken offline,” Hazard said. “At Royal North Shore a couple of weeks ago we had nearly 200 staff taken offline; Fairfield around 100 staff.

“It is putting a lot of pressure on the health system.”

Victoria recorded two new Covid cases on Saturday and the number of people isolating as primary close contacts dropped to 6,654 people.

Both of the new cases involved traffic controllers working at the Moonee Valley Racecourse testing site who carpooled to work, where they became infected from unknown source.

While one was in quarantine for the entirety of their infectious period, the other spent limited time in the community.

The Victorian health minister, Martin Foley, announced on Saturday that the state would push out the time between first and second doses of Pfizer from three weeks to six in a bid to “front-load” first doses of the vaccine.

The change will not apply to people who have already got a booking for their second Pfizer vaccine, or hotel quarantine and border workers, frontline workers, correctional services staff and clients, or commonwealth vaccinations, such as those administered by GPs.

Related: Qld Covid restrictions and lockdown: Brisbane and regional Queensland coronavirus rules explained

Victoria’s chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, said: “[This] allows more to receive the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in coming weeks.

“One dose does give you strong protection, especially against Covid illness and against hospitalisation, and that change to six weeks is consistent with the Atagi [Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation] guidelines.”

Greater Sydney and surrounding regions are in lockdown until at least 28 August.

In Sydney’s east, nine businesses in Bondi Beach were banned from selling takeaway liquor for a week over concerns they were encouraging people to breach public health orders.

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