One of Australia’s first ever coronavirus patients has died nine months after catching the disease – without any trace of the virus left in his system.
The NSW man died on December 21 of respiratory complications from coronavirus after he was first diagnosed in March.
He was the first Covid-related death in NSW since September 19.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Kerry Chant said he recently tested negative to the virus.
‘He was a household contact for a locally-acquired case and although his death is considered to be related to Covid, that’s based on the doctors completing a death certificate as to the cause of death,’ Ms Chant said.
A NSW man died on December 31 from respiratory complications, nine months after first contracting coronavirus.
‘He had recently tested negative and was no longer infectious and posed no risk to the community.’
Dr Chant said the man’s death demonstrated the life threatening long-term impacts of the illness.
‘I think this highlights the fact that sometimes the complications can be so severe that the lung damage and other complications arising from Covid can subsequently be the cause of death many months later,’ she said.
Dr Chant would not disclose which area of NSW the man was from for privacy reasons, but did confirm he was not linked to Sydney’s Northern Beaches cluster, given that he was infected long before that outbreak.
The latest fatality brings NSW’s death toll to 56 and Australia’s to 909, with more than 1.7 million deaths recorded worldwide.
Most people experience mild symptoms and recover from the virus in less than two weeks, but some develop long-term illness.
Ongoing illnesses can include fatigue, joint pain, breathing difficulties, chest pain, a lingering cough and a change of smell or taste.
Dr Kerry Chant said the man, aged in his 70s, had recently tested negative to coronavirus
Less common and more severe symptoms include insomnia, fevers, headaches and depression.
Although the full extent of coronavirus related illness is yet to be uncovered, new research has begun to paint a picture of the alarming long-term health impacts the virus can induce.
Last week, the first Australian study of recovered Covid patients found up to 40 per cent of them experienced persistent symptoms including chest pain, fatigue and breathlessness.
Researchers at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital tracked 78 patients from April, with 31 still having persistent symptoms two months later.
In September, research into the long-term effects of Covid-19 published found survivors may have an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
The study, published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease, proposes a ‘two-hit’ hypothesis, in which an initial inflammation event occurs, such as the virus, with a second then fuelling the later development of the nervous system disorder.
While it is still too early to know how many survivors would go on to develop the disease, with more than 80 million coronavirus cases worldwide, experts believe even a small percentage would create a surge in Parkinson disease cases.
NSW recorded another five local COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday, at least four of which are connected to the Avalon cluster
It comes as NSW recorded another five local COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday, at least four of which are connected to the Avalon cluster.
An additional nine cases were uncovered in hotel quarantine.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday told reporters the stay-at-home orders applying to northern beaches residents north of the Narrabeen Bridge will continue until at least January 9.
The lockdown for the peninsula’s southern zone will be in place until at least January 2.
However a brief reprieve for small indoor gatherings on the northern beaches on NYE and New Year’s Day has been permitted.
Ms Berejiklian thanked residents for their patience but said health authorities did not yet know enough about the origins of the cluster.
‘Whilst we’re seeing the trends go the way we hope they do, there are still too many concerning aspects … of not really being able to identify what we call the intermediaries, those unlinked cases,’ Ms Berejiklian said.
The northern zone of the Northern Beaches will remain locked down until January 9 to stop the spread of Covid-19. The southern zone will be released from lockdown on January 2
Restrictions for greater Sydney and regional NSW will remain largely unchanged around NYE but outdoor gatherings in greater Sydney have been tightened to a maximum of 50 people, down from 100.
While four of Monday’s five reported cases were linked to the Avalon cluster, the fifth is linked to a previously-reported case on the northern beaches whose source of infection remains under investigation.
Three cases connected to the Belrose Hotel continue to mystify authorities.
A 20-year-old hotel worker, a firefighter patron and a drive-through bottle shop customer all had the virus in December but there is no established link between the pub and the Avalon cluster at this point.
The changes to congregating outdoors for greater Sydney come after several large Christmas gatherings were reported, including a large North Bondi house party and unauthorised parties at Bronte and Centennial Park.
A Newtown restaurant was fined $5,000 after police attended on December 23 and learned the owner did not have a Covid-safe plan.
Plans to allow about 5,000 frontline workers to watch the fireworks from vantage points around the Sydney Harbour have been scrapped. Pictured: Fireworks in 2020
Health Minister Brad Hazzard condemned the rule-breakers on Monday and warned revellers to adhere to rules in the lead-up to NYE.
NSW on Monday also cancelled its plan to host frontline Covid-19 workers on the Sydney foreshore for the shortened NYE fireworks on Thursday night.
‘It’s too much of a health risk having people from the regions and from Sydney … congregate all in the CBD,’ Ms Berejiklian said.
Ms Berejiklian promised the government would find another opportunity during 2021 to recognise the actions of frontline workers during the pandemic.
She said there should be no NYE crowds on Sydney’s foreshore whatsoever but booked restaurant or hospitality plans in the CBD could go ahead.
Hospitality venues will require a permit to operate on NYE.
A special pass will also be required for people to enter designated zones around Circular Quay, North Sydney and the CBD.
In September, research revealed coronavirus survivors may have an increased chance of developing Parkinson’s disease (stock of a health care worker performing a COVID-19 swab)