The Far West has recorded its first COVID-19 death this week.
The Far West Local Health District reported that a man in his late 50’s, who was COVID positive, died at the Broken Hill Hospital on Thursday afternoon.
The man was a close contact of a previously confirmed COVID-19 positive case, was unvaccinated and had underlying health conditions.
FWLHD Chief Executive, Umit Agis, spoke to the media in a press conference on Friday afternoon.
“Sadly, unfortunately, I have to report that we had our first COVID-19 death in the region,” he said.
“It was a Broken Hill man in his late 50’s, who was not vaccinated, and we only became aware of his COVID positive status when he came to ED (Emergency Department), so he was not known.
“As part of our process, we swab people when they come into hospital ED, and there it was discovered that he was COVID positive. He was very heavily compromised physically and, unfortunately, he passed away yesterday (Thursday) afternoon.
“I want to relay my sincerest condolences to the family and his loved ones.”
Mr Agis could confirm that the man who passed away was an Aboriginal man.
“It just goes to show, really, that no matter how slight your symptoms are, don’t second guess, because you may not get a second chance with this,” he said.
“We encourage anyone and everyone to get tested, irrespective of if you have symptoms or not, and we’ll make sure that we turn the results around very quickly so we can notify the individuals concerned.
“But please, come forward. If we can get to it in time, we can contain the spread of the virus.”
Mr Agis said there are currently two COVID positive patients in the Broken Hill Hospital and they’re doing reasonably well.
Up to 8pm, Thursday, September 23, the Far West recorded a further 11 cases, nine in Broken Hill and two in Wilcannia. Up to 8pm, Wednesday, September 22, there were seven cases in the Far West, six in Broken Hill and one in Wilcannia. There were just three cases in the district up to 8pm, Tuesday, September 21, all of which were in Broken Hill.
This brings the total cases in the Far West to 226; of those, 148 are from Wilcannia, 77 from Broken Hill and one from Balranald. There are 130 recovered cases in the district; one from Balranald, 20 from Broken Hill and 109 from Wilcannia.
There are currently 96 active cases in the region; 57 in Broken Hill and 39 in Wilcannia.
Mr Agis said there is good news in relation to the region’s COVID vaccination numbers.
“At the moment, for 16 years and over, as a district, we are now standing at just under 83 percent for first dose and 56 percent second dose.
“Wilcannia and White Cliffs, 69 percent first dose, 53 percent second dose. Now, Wilcannia, as you know, had a large number of people who became positive – a large number of those, around 70 to 80 percent, were not vaccinated. Unfortunately, those individuals will not get vaccinated post their COVID-free status – they’ll have to wait another three to six months.
“So, if you remove those numbers from the denominator, the actual rate of vaccination for those who are eligible is quite high.”
Mr Agis said that Menindee is “the star” when it comes to vaccinations.
“Menindee is just under 93 percent for first dose and 78 percent second dose. Broken Hill is 88 percent first dose and 62.5 percent second dose.
“So, as you can see, we are doing quite well on the vaccination front.
“I’m told by our Public Health that if we maintain our current strike rate, we’re looking at two to three weeks to reach our 70 percent full dose and slightly more than four weeks for 80 percent.”