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Your views: on elective surgery bans and ABC radio's new brekky duo

Reader contributions

Readers have their say on the decision to put elective surgery on hold, ABC Radio Adelaide’s new morning line-up and the reporting of COVID-19 case numbers.

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Commenting on: Hospital operating theatres ‘sitting idle’ as COVID elective surgery cuts hit

Some time ago, the State Government announced plans to free-up hundreds of beds in the public hospital system in preparation for an influx of COVID patients.

The proposed strategy was to achieve this by moving non-acute and long-stay patients into other institutional settings, both public and private, and into community care arrangements.

There is no evidence that this contingency plan has yet become necessary to implement, so it is curious that elective (non-emergency) surgery has already been cancelled in private hospitals.

We can only assume that this is aimed at accumulating beds in the private sector and keeping them ‘on ice’ pending the effects of a worsening COVID situation.

This has resulted in medical problems and inconvenience for many patients whose surgical needs will have to be met eventually in a system that will be overloaded and dysfunctional for some time to come.

This is symptomatic of the doctrinaire, cumbersome and inflexible planning processes within SA Health which seem to be incapable of adapting quickly and rationally to changing circumstances.

When the COVID overlay of health care abates the truly parlous state of our hospital system will be revealed. – Prof. Warren Jones, Convenor, WCH Alliance

Commenting on: ABC looks within for new breakfast team

Congratulations on the choice of two experienced and amazing journalists. Well done ABC management. I wish them well and look forward to them providing positive listening rather than slamming everything.

I wish Ali and Spence well in their new ventures. I won’t be switching the dial though! – Rosemary Box

 Commenting on the story: ‘Relentless’ focus on daily COVID cases hurts consumer confidence

Callum Di Sario gives a number of statistics on the comparative mortality rate of influenza and Omicron from which he concludes that “Omicron…. is about 50 times worse than influenza”.

ATAGI in their Immunisation Handbook state that “On average each year in Australia, influenza causes approximately 100 deaths and 5100 hospitalisations.”

However, they also say “these numbers are widely believed to under-represent the true burden of influenza disease in Australia” and quote mathematical modelling estimating that “more than 3000 deaths and more than 13,500 hospitalisations [are] due to influenza  per year among Australians aged >50 years.”

Estimating hospitalisation and death due to Omicron is rather more difficult as Omicron is still in the exponential growth stage and deaths will lag cases by up to four weeks.

Statistics from the Covid Live website show currently there are 644,326 active cases in Australia of whom 3,865 are in hospital, a ratio of 6000 per million rather than the 49,000 per million given by Callum di Sario.

The same website shows a cumulative death rate from all variants of Covid-19 of 2416 in 1,140,882 cases or 2100 per million.

However, the majority of deaths (2006) occurred before December 2021 and so relate to the original and Delta variants and a largely unvaccinated population.

A UK paper gives a detailed breakdown of hospitalisations classified by vaccine status and prior infection. This shows a three-dose vaccinated Omicron hospitalisation rate of 3356 per million, somewhat better than Callum di Sario’s figure of 49,000 per million. – Robert Kenrick


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