This story appears on RNZ.co.nz. RNZ reports are republished by Kaniva Tonga in partnership.
Young people are at “considerable risk” from the Delta variant of Covid-19, an expert warned after the death of a Sydney woman in her 30s.
The woman, from the Sydney CBD, had no pre-existing conditions. She died at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital overnight.
A woman in her 70s from south-west Sydney also died at Campbelltown Hospital.
There have been eight Covid-related deaths in NSW during this current outbreak.
Nobel Prize-winning immunity and infection expert Peter Doherty said Covid-19 was much less a disease of the elderly than had previously been the case.
“It’s very sad that a young woman should die from Covid, or from anything for that matter,” Doherty said.
“But I think it highlights that particularly this Delta variant that’s circulating now is really quite problematic in younger people.
“The message is that young people are at considerable risk and at higher risk than with the earlier variants of Covid.
“Young people shouldn’t think they’re at no risk or even minimal risks. Because it’s going to kill.”
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned young people could fall victim to the “cruel disease”.
“If anybody thinks this is a disease just affecting older people, please think again,” she said.
“Again, I want to extend my heartfelt condolences to those families, their loved ones who are grieving today, but please note that younger people without pre-existing conditions can also fall victim to this cruel disease.”
NSW today recorded 141 new Covid-19 cases.
Thirty-eight of the new cases were in the community while infectious and a further 24 cases were in the community for part of their infectious period.
NSW Health’s Jeremy McAnulty said a teenager was one of 43 people currently in intensive care in NSW.
He said of 43 people in intensive care, one was a teenager, seven were in their 20s, three were in their 30s, 14 were in their 50s, 12 were in their 60s and six were in their 70s.
“So this is affecting people of all ages with very serious disease,” Dr McAnulty said.
Professor Doherty warned that patients would “never be the same” after leaving intensive care.
“After you’ve been hospitalised and in ICU, and you’ve had a lot of damage, probably heart and lung damage, and so forth, your life will never be the same,” he said.
The president of the NSW Australian Medical Association said the death of the woman in her 30s was a “really strong reminder” of how serious an illness Covid-19 was.
“Any death from Covid-19 is tragic, and particularly one of someone taken so young, I think is a really strong reminder to all of us that Covid-19 is a serious illness,” Danielle McMullen said.
“We know it’s been really hard on young people, I’ve had lots of feedback from younger patients that they’re really keen to get vaccinated.
“And it’s been frustrating that those who know that they can be affected by Covid haven’t had access to a vaccine.”
Dr McMullen urged young people to consider asking for the AstraZenica vaccine.
“I think it’s important that people have that discussion with their GP who they trust to work through the pros and cons and come up with the best decision on an individual basis.”