One-third of older COVID patients in NSW contracted virus in aged care, but most infections happened on cruise ships – plus, only 30% hospitalised

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Interesting insights from the latest surveillance report by NSW Health.

Among NSW coronavirus patient aged over 70 between 1 January to 17 October 2020, 64% contracted the virus overseas – 71% on cruise ships where there had been known COVID outbreaks.

On shore, aged care facilities were the most common sites of exposure for locally acquired cases (38%) followed by households (33%), social/family contact (outside the home or in other people’s homes) (9%), healthcare (hospitals and GP) (8%), gym (4%) and restaurants/pubs (4%).

In total, there were 521 positive cases among the over-70s, or around 13% of all confirmed cases in NSW. Most were aged in their 70s (69%) with a smaller number in their 80s (23%).

Following the international evidence, the illness was also more severe among this age group with 91% of COVID-related deaths in NSW people aged 70 years and over.

Despite this, only 30% were hospitalised. As you can see from the above graph, only 24% of those aged 70 to 79 were admitted to hospital climbing to 47% for those aged 80 to89 and then falling lower to 37% for the 90-plus group.

Overall, only 10% ended up in the ICU and 5% received respiratory support – even though 10% of patients died.

Interestingly, men also had a higher rate of infection than women (53% to 47%).

Also, of the 33 locally acquired cases with no links to known cases or clusters, five lived in aged care facilities, but their source of exposure was not able to be linked to these facilities – suggesting they contracted the virus from other sources outside of the aged care home.


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