COVID-19 victim in his 20s identified as NSW government considers new restrictions

COVID-19 victim in his 20s identified as NSW government considers new restrictions
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The family and friends of a healthy 23-year-old who died of COVID-19 this week have paid tribute to the award-winning science graduate and champion powerlifter.

James Kondilios died at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital. He was double vaccinated and had no known underlying health conditions.

Watch the video above for the latest on Australia’s Omicron outbreak

His death was among six recorded in New South Wales on Thursday.

Mr Kondilios grew up in Sydney, attended Waverley College in the eastern suburbs and represented Australia at the World Powerlifting Championships in Finland in 2015, where he won a bronze medal.

James Kondilios was one of six people to die from COVID-19 in Thursday’s reporting period.
James Kondilios was one of six people to die from COVID-19 in Thursday’s reporting period. Credit: Supplied

“A proud Waverley student, we hear he wore the Waverley sports shirt under his official Australian tracksuit for the presentation,” the school wrote at the time.

In 2019, he was awarded a national science prize for his work on forestry and climate change and recently worked as a data scientist at the Department of Social Services in Canberra.

“He had received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and had no known underlying health conditions,” NSW Health said in a statement, “NSW Health expresses its sincere condolences to their loved ones.”

In 2019, James Kondilios (centre) was presented with a Science and Innovation award by then Agriculture Minister David Littleproud.
In 2019, James Kondilios (centre) was presented with a Science and Innovation award by then Agriculture Minister David Littleproud. Credit: Supplied

Mr Kondilios’ friend Stephen Ma said he “collapsed in tears” after hearing the news.

“Your hand-written words are still left on my whiteboard, your table still there in my room along with mine, I can see you everywhere,” he wrote.

“It’s just so hard to think that I can’t see you anymore, I can’t do coding with you anymore, I can’t eat meats with you anymore, I can’t share whisky with you and I can’t laugh hard with you anymore.

James Kondilios, 23.
James Kondilios, 23. Credit: Twitter

“I am glad I spent a lot of happy time with you last year, and in your last year, it is so respected that you worked so bloody hard for our dreams.

“I am so regretting that I didn’t take more photos with you, I am so regretting that I should hug you even harder when last time we saw each other.”

Mr Ma recalled the last message Mr Kondilios sent him was that he “couldn’t ask for a better friend”.

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I feel so lucky I was to have you in my life

“Likewise bro, the years I spent with you will always be a great part of my life … I will try to be a better person just like you bro, kind, sweet, nice to everyone and love everyone,” he added.

“I feel so lucky I was to have you in my life, even if it was not for as long as we would have liked.”

The Sydney University Wrestling and Grappling Club remembered Mr Kondilios – who was a member between 2015 and 2017 – as a “great wrestler and even better human being”.

NSW COVID update

Hospitalisations for COVID-19 in New South Wales rose by 129 overnight amid reports the state government is preparing to reimpose restrictions to ease pressure on the state’s straining health system.

The state reported 11 further deaths and a record high daily case number of 38,625 from 112,725 tests in 24 hours, meaning one in three people getting a PCR was infected.

The numbers to 8pm Thursday take the state’s three-day total past 100,000 and cases in the past fortnight to 262,000.

As of Friday, a record 1738 people with the virus were being treated in hospital, up from 1609 on Thursday and 1491 on Wednesday.

Of those in hospital, 134 are in intensive care, an increase of three, but still lower than the peak of 244 in September, with 33 requiring ventilation.

Six men and five women aged in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s were among 11 people to die of COVID-19 in NSW.

Three people were from northern NSW, three were from southeastern Sydney, one from western Sydney, one from southwestern Sydney, one from northern Sydney, one from Port Stephens and one from the Lake Macquarie area.

Restrictions considered

As hospitalisations continue to rise, the state government is reportedly preparing to reimpose restrictions to help ease the pressure.

Nightclubs will close, singing and dancing will be banned, major events will be cancelled and some elective surgeries will be postponed, according to “government officials” who spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald.

People will also be discouraged from standing up while drinking at hospitality venues and mask rules will remain in place.

The decisions were reportedly made following a meeting between Premier Dominic Perrottet, ministers and Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant, with the details currently being finalised.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant has reportedly recommended reimposing restrictions.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant has reportedly recommended reimposing restrictions. Credit: Getty Images

Mr Perrottet had already warned the state may also suspend elective surgeries to relieve pressure on the hospital system.

“During the Delta outbreak, and the year before, we suspended elective surgery for a period of time,” he told 2GB radio.

“That is certainly something we are looking at now.

“At the moment the healthcare system is strong, but we will need to make some changes – I suspect on elective surgery and I would also expect in terms of our work with the private health system.”

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That is certainly something we are looking at now

Private hospitals could also be asked to help manage the increase in cases, he said.

But Australian Medical Association NSW president Danielle McMullen said suspending surgeries was an avoidable move that “will have profound consequences for patients”.

“Elective surgery shouldn’t be a tap that government turns on and off to cover for serious cracks in our healthcare system,” Dr McMullen said.

File images of healthcare workers administering COVID-19 tests.
File images of healthcare workers administering COVID-19 tests. Credit: BIANCA DE MARCHI/AAPIMAGE

Many of NSW’s testing sites and pathology labs are also under strain due to high demand.

Mr Perrottet said the testing system was at full capacity and it will take time to relieve the pressure as people adjust to new testing guidelines which pivot to using rapid, at-home tests.

Unlike PCR, laboratory tests, rapid antigen test results are not registered, sparking concerns authorities could be left “flying blind” if there was no way for people to self-report their results.

– With AAP

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