Alarming 'complications' contributing to surging Covid deaths

·3-min read

Leading epidemiologists have expressed concern at large numbers of Covid-positive people dying at home due to patients not coming forward for testing.

Associate professor Sanjaya Senanayake from the Australian National University said there had been multiple deaths from Covid-19 due to people developing severe symptoms at home, but not coming forward for testing or medical assistance earlier on.

The concern comes following new figures reported by the ABC's 7.30 program that more than half of Covid deaths at home in NSW were not known to health authorities until post-mortem.

While cases are falling in NSW, death rates are continuing to grow. Source: Getty
While cases are falling in NSW, death rates are continuing to grow. Source: Getty

"If people came to hospital earlier it could be in fact a life-saving presentation," Dr Senanayake told AAP.

"If people did have Covid, the question is why didn't they get tested, or something prevented them getting Covid treatment such as the fear and stigma of it."

The ABC revealed how of the 29 people who died at home from coronavirus in NSW, 13 were known to NSW Health, while the remainder were only revealed to have had Covid-19 following their death.

Daily Covid deaths have routinely been double-digit figures over the past fortnight, the highest seen in the pandemic, and are expected to peak at some point in October.

Covid can trigger sudden death through non-lung complications

Dr Senanayake said while a delay in testing may account for the number of Covid deaths at home, other health issues may also be a factor.

"Another possibility is that we know Covid can cause complications outside the lungs itself, so this can affect the heart and cause an inflammation of the heart muscle and could lead to someone passing away," he said.

"Similarly, we know that Covid is associated with clots, and if a patient were to get a big clot on the lung, that could lead to a fatal outcome if someone wasn't hospitalised."

Covid deaths in the past fortnight are the highest in NSW since the pandemic began. Source: Yahoo
Covid deaths in the past fortnight are the highest in NSW since the pandemic began. Source: Yahoo

The infectious diseases expert said health authorities regularly checked in with Covid patients who were at home.

He said the availability of treatment had expanded over the pandemic.

"In some jurisdictions they are sending out oxygen saturation probes so patients can measure their own oxygen levels and can send that data over to health authorities," he said.

Of those who have died at home in NSW from Covid-19, ages have ranged from people in their 20s to 80s.

A federal health department spokesman told AAP anyone with symptoms consistent with Covid-19 should seek advice from their doctor through telehealth.

"They can also call Healthdirect for telephone advice."

Advice was available online on state and territory websites or by phone on how to arrange for a specimen to be collected for testing.

"Ignoring symptoms may result in missing a diagnosis of Covid-19 or a treatable infection with similar symptoms," the department spokesman said.

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