NSW Health has switched to recording patients as dying ‘with’ instead of ‘from’ Covid as it acknowledges not all of the country’s 933 deaths were directly linked to the deadly virus.
Dr Jeremy McAnulty made the admission during Sunday’s Covid briefing as the state recorded 1,218 new cases of coronavirus. Six people died with Covid-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday bringing the total death toll of this outbreak to 89 death since June 16.
Dr McAnulty said the change in language was because it was ‘very difficult to know’ whether someone with Covid died from the virus, or another health complication.
‘We know when elderly people die, they can have a range of comorbidities, and also, being old increases your risk of death,’ he said.
‘Covid may often play a role in the death, but it may not. Sometimes, some of our cases who have sadly died appear to have recovered from Covid, and then they have died of something [else].
‘We report people who have died “with” Covid, unless there is a very clear alternative.’ He added that it was difficult for doctors who were looking after patients to know exactly how much the virus contributed to their death.
The symbolic change in language comes as NSW Health begins to acknowledge the country’s 933 Covid deaths were not all direct results of the deadly virus. As explained by Dr McAnulty, some of the deaths previously reported as ‘from Covid’ were actually the consequence of another health condition or the victim had fully recovered from the virus before their death.