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Scott Morrison pushes to reclassify Covid hospital admissions with only 51 patients on ventilators

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Scott Morrison will seek a nationwide standard definition of Covid-19 hospitalisations after government data revealed patients were being admitted to hospital for reasons other than the virus.

The Prime Minister will work with state and territory leaders to reassess how Covid patients are tallied after Australia recorded a record 36,742 cases on Monday. 

However, only 51 people are on ventilators across the country with Mr Morrison reiterating the Omicron variant is 75 per cent less severe than the Delta strain. 

While NSW recorded 20,794 new cases on Monday only 1,204 people are in hospital being treated for the virus, while ICU patients increased by 12 to 95. 

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The reclassification of Covid hospital admissions comes after data revealed dozens of patients included in the tally were admitted for unrelated reasons.

PM Scott Morrison (pictured) will seek a nationwide standard definition of Covid-19 hospitalisations after data revealed patients were being admitted for unrelated reasons

The PM will work with state and territory leaders to reassess how Covid patients are tallied after Australia recorded a record 36,742 cases on Monday (pictured, a health worker in Bondi)

The PM will work with state and territory leaders to reassess how Covid patients are tallied after Australia recorded a record 36,742 cases on Monday (pictured, a health worker in Bondi)

More than 50 per cent of ‘Covid patients’ had been admitted for broken bones, cancer treatment or labour pains and tested positive during routine inspections. 

The shock revelations in NSW were quickly echoed in Victoria, where it was also revealed a significant amount of patients had been admitted for other reasons.

The Prime Minister has said he will push for a standard definition of Covid hospitalisations at the next cabinet meeting on Wednesday. 

‘I make the point on hospitalisation, and this is one of the things we’re going to have to discuss this week, I’m heading down to Canberra today, with the premiers is this definition of hospitalisation,’ Mr Morrison told Nine’s Today on Monday.

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‘There are people being counted as being in hospital for Covid. They didn’t go there for Covid. They went there for some other reason and that’s why they were admitted, and they’ve been tested when they’re there, and they’ve been found to have Covid.

‘So we need to get a standard definition on that because these are the key things we have to track now.

‘There’ll come a time, and I suspect it shouldn’t be too far away, where reporting case numbers is really not the point. What matters is the impact on the hospital system.’ 

Some patients had been admitted for broken bones, cancer treatment or labour pains and had tested positive during routine inspections (pictured, Sydneysiders celebrate Christmas Day)

Some patients had been admitted for broken bones, cancer treatment or labour pains and had tested positive during routine inspections (pictured, Sydneysiders celebrate Christmas Day)

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has admitted that over two days during the week, up to half of those cases were in hospital for something else entirely (pictured, queues for a Covid test)

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has admitted that over two days during the week, up to half of those cases were in hospital for something else entirely (pictured, queues for a Covid test)

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has admitted that over two days during the week, up to half of those cases were in hospital for something else entirely. 

‘A reasonable proportion of cases being classified as Covid hospitalisations are actually people with other reasons for admission,’ Mr Hazzard said.

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‘Heart attacks, births, falls, none of that stops just because there is Covid. They come into hospital, they have a swab taken and it confirms Covid.

‘This shows us its out in the community, but we aren’t necessarily seeing that as the primary reason for all of the admissions.’  

While Mr Hazzard admitted hospitals are under increasing strain, preliminary analysis shows that Omicron so far has proved to be a much milder illness for many. 

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said people admitted to hospital for reasons unrelated to Covid and test positive had to be counted in the hospitalisations tally because of the care they need. 

‘We are seeing people who are now tested automatically ­before they go into hospital, ticking positive if they’re showing up for their cancer treatment, if they’re showing up for their broken bones,’ Mr Foley said.

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‘As a result, we have to then treat those people the same way, the same Covid positive and safe way, that we treat everyone else who’s got Covid.’

Preliminary analysis shows that Omicron so far has proved to be a much milder illness for many with only 51 people on ventilators across Australia on Monday (pictured, queues for tests)

Preliminary analysis shows that Omicron so far has proved to be a much milder illness for many with only 51 people on ventilators across Australia on Monday (pictured, queues for tests)

NSW recorded 20,794 new cases on Monday, a jump of more than 2,500 within 24 hours on Monday (pictured, ambulances at St Vincent's Hospital)

NSW recorded 20,794 new cases on Monday, a jump of more than 2,500 within 24 hours on Monday (pictured, ambulances at St Vincent’s Hospital)

It comes as experts say the peak of the latest Omicron outbreak could be in sight, just weeks after the first community transmission was recorded. 

The variant – which was first recorded in South Africa in November – has swept through most parts of Australia causing record caseloads in many states. 

But federal health officials are quietly hopeful the worst of the Omicron wave could be over within weeks with international modelling showing promising signs that the variant peaks quickly before petering out just eight weeks later. 

Senior officials are keeping a close eye on the latest data from South Africa, which has experienced a sharp ­decline in infections just two months after initial infections. 

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They’re optimistic about reports from South Africa that the country was over the hump of the worst of its Omicron outbreak.

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