Grim warning for young people
Health officials can't say it more clearly: young people can get coronavirus and they can get it bad.
This morning, both New South Wales health minister Brad Hazzard and the state's chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant warned young Australians that if they think they were not going to be affected, "you are wrong".
It comes after 41 people in the state were admitted to intensive care units, with four of them in their thirties.
"Some young people think it won't affect them. My message is be very aware this can have extremely deleterious health effects, you could possibly die from this," Mr Hazzard said.
He said people who are over 50 with underlying health issues, whether it is diabetes, heart conditions or respiratory conditions, are in a "very dangerous place in terms of this virus".
"If you are over 70, even without those other conditions you are in a dangerous space.
"Young people who think they are not going to be affected, you are wrong," he said, adding that "it is quite possible you will be".
Mr Hazzard added that while the virus may not affect younger people to the same extent, there were still "unlucky ones" who ended up in hospital, ICUs on ventilators, and the consequences of that may be "very, very poor."
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Australia now stands at 5523, with 29 deaths after Victoria announced another victim yesterday.
Dr Chant said of the 41 people recently admitted to ICU in NSW, 23 of them are on ventilators. Their ages range from 30 to 80 years.
"The message I would like to convey is that while this disease is generally milder in young age groups, no-one in the community has protection, or underlying immunity to this new virus. We will expect to see severe consequences for some people in the younger age groups."
"And so it is important that while we have a clear focus on protecting the elderly and those over 65 with chronic health conditions and those over 70, it is very important that we, across all age brackets, heed the advice about social distancing and other measures."
Ms Chant said NSW currently has 251 cases of COVID-19 being treated, with 50 per cent of those people being treated in their homes.
She said as we approach Easter it is critical that the message around non-essential travel be heeded, pleading with Aussies not to go to rural areas and into the country.
"We are experiencing community transmission of COVID-19 … we are asking the community to please not travel in a non-essential way to the country or even move around as the premier has asked people to really stay at home, keep your contacts very limited and comply with our advice at this time."
As of Saturday afternoon there were 2493 cases in NSW, 1115 in Victoria, 900 in Queensland, 396 in South Australia, 422 in Western Australia, 80 in Tasmania, 91 in the Australian Capital Territory and 26 in the Northern Territory.
'MORE CASES IN YOUNG PEOPLE'
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said it's seeing more cases of young people becoming severely ill from the coronavirus, warning it's a mistake to believe the virus only affects older people.
During a news briefing on Friday, Maria Van Kerkhove, a doctor and epidemiologist with WHO said: "We are seeing more and more younger individuals who are experiencing severe disease."
"We've seen some data from Italy, we've seen some data from China, we've seen some data from a number of countries across Europe where people of younger age have died," she said. "Some of those individuals have had underlying conditions, but some have not."
She explained that while most infected patients who experience severe illnesses tend to be older or have underlying health issues, some countries are seeing patients in their thirties, forties and fifties who are in intensive care units or have died.
WHO officials said it is not yet clear why some develop a severe illness and yet others do not.
On Thursday, the global health agency reported that more than 95 per cent of all coronavirus fatalities in Europe were among patients aged 60 or older.
More than 80 per cent of adults older than 60 who died had one or more underlying conditions, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, and more than half of those who died were older than 80.
Originally published as 'Could die': Grim warning for young people