Welcome to your COVID-19 update. In this week's edition, find out why religious and multicultural leaders came out in force to encourage communities to get vaccinated. See how Contact Tracers were celebrated in a stunning sound and light show at the Sydney/Sydney  Eye Hospital, and a Western Sydney research project finds a link between age, the COVID-19 infection and the mortality rate.

In this edition

Religious and multicultural leaders receive COVID-19 vaccine

More than 30 NSW religious and community leaders from diverse faith and cultural communities came together on Wednesday, May 26 at Sydney Olympic Park to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The leaders met with Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Minister for Health Brad Hazzard and Minister for Multiculturalism Geoff Lee at the NSW Mass Vaccination Centre at Sydney Olympic Park.

"Thank you to community leaders across NSW who have shown leadership throughout the pandemic and continue to provide trusted information to their communities. It is critical to vaccinate our citizens as quickly and as safely as possible," Ms Berejiklian said.

"There are cultural support workers at the mass vaccination centre who can guide people through the entire process in 25 different languages."

The mass vaccination centre is now administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to members of the general public aged 50 and over, along with GPs and other NSW Health clinics throughout the state.

The majority of the community leaders have received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

NSW Health spoke to two of the religious and community leaders.

Indran Guru from Sydney Murugan Temple

Why did you come here today and get vaccinated?

I came here today as I was invited to do so by Multicultural NSW and I wanted to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Are you happy to be receiving the vaccination?

I wasn't quite sure about receiving the vaccination at first, but now I am certain that it is safe, and the best thing to do, so I was very happy to receive it today.

How do you feel after being vaccinated?  

I feel fine, very good really.

What would you like to say to everybody in your community about getting the vaccine?

Everybody has to get the vaccine. Our community is Tamil and Hindu. There are more than seven to eight thousand people coming to our temple and we should all get the vaccine. If somebody within our community thinks they should wait I would say, 'don't wait, please come everybody and get the vaccine'. In other countries such as India and in Sri Lanka it is very difficult to get the vaccine, but here in NSW, we are very lucky to have the vaccine so we should make the most of the opportunity and get vaccinated.   

Chol Abednego – South Sudanese community elder

Why did you come here today and get vaccinated?

As a community elder it is good to be vaccinated to raise awareness in my community. I would like to say that vaccination is safe and at the same time it is to protect you and the rest of the community in Australia.

How do you feel after being vaccinated?  

I feel good, happy and protected. The injection really didn't hurt at all. Itwas just like any other injection.

What would you like to say to everybody in your community about getting the vaccine?

I was very happy to be vaccinated today. Every one of us in the community should be vaccinated because it is safe and it protects us. When we are all vaccinated we will all be safe. However even if we have all been vaccinated we need to keep social distancing, using hand sanitizer, and wearing a mask if the NSW Government asks us to do so.   

COVID-19 top takeaways

Vaccine rollout   

  • More than 1.1 million COVID-19 vaccines have now been administered across the state, including more than 380,000 by NSW Health and more than 790,000 by the GP network and other providers.    
  • As of Monday 24 May, NSW Health vaccination clinics across NSW opened to the general public to book in for the AstraZeneca and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. 

COVID-19 community transmission in Victoria    

  • Anyone travelling to NSW who has been in Victoria after 4pm Thursday 27 May must follow the stay-at-home measures that apply in Victoria.  
  • NSW Health continues to closely monitor the situation in Victoria as local health authorities investigate the COVID-19 cases detected in the community.    
  • NSW Health continues to urge people who have been in Victoria since 12 May to check the Victoria Department of Health and Human Services website regularly to see if they have visited any of the growing number of venues of concern, and if so, immediately follow the relevant public health advice. If you attended any of the venues identified at the times listed, please contact the NSW Health contact tracing team immediately on 1800 943 553.   
  • NSW Health strongly advises against all non-essential travel to Victoria at this time.    
  • Anyone arriving in NSW by air, rail or road who has been in Victoria  in the previous 14 days must complete a NSW entry declaration that confirms they have not attended a venue of concern. There are exemptions in place for border region residents. 
  • The declaration form is available on the Service NSW website, and can be completed in the 24-hour period before entering NSW or on or after arrival. The information gathered via the declaration is vital in allowing NSW Health to contact travellers if necessary.   

Vaccine rollout

Vaccination milestones being reached as efforts ramp up in NSW

This week, Sydney Local Health District celebrated another milestone, with 50,000 vaccines now given at the NSW Health Vaccination Centre at Sydney Olympic Park. In this video, we meet Abhijeet, the 50,000th recipient and hear why he got vaccinated.



50,000 milestone at NSW Health Vaccination Centre - Sydney Olympic Park

Meanwhile in South Western Sydney, an incredible 40,000 vaccinations have been administered so far by district staff since the rollout began in February, with Fairfield Hospital volunteer Stella Taylor receiving the milestone dose at the Liverpool Vaccination Clinic on 20 May.

"I feel really honoured to be the one who received the 40,000th dose. It's pretty cool. I am also really glad that so many people are coming forward to be vaccinated. It's wonderful to see,'' Ms Taylor said.

"I've had both doses of the vaccine now and they didn't hurt at all. I got vaccinated to protect myself, my family and the community from COVID-19.

"I encourage everyone to be vaccinated as soon as they can.''

The District's Chief Executive Amanda Larkin said she could not be more proud of all staff for their wonderful teamwork and for working so hard to reach the milestone of 40,000 vaccinations.

"This is a credit to everyone involved and a reflection of the outstanding efforts of our teams at the Liverpool and Catherine Park Vaccination Clinics,'' she said.

"I also thank our nursing and administrative staff who travelled further afield and delivered vaccinations to places like Bega, Broken Hill and Wagga Wagga.''

Vaccination at district clinics has also been expanded to include household members of staff and people in the broader community.

NSW Health encourages you to take the opportunity to protect yourself, your friends and family and community, by getting vaccinated as soon as possible. 

Visit the COVID-19 vaccination eligibility checker


Saving lives in Gujarat, Western India

Dr Dhaval Ghelani, an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) specialist at Blacktown hospital, has been using his medical expertise and compassion to help a not-for-profit organisation, Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur Australia (SRMDA), to set up a COVID-19 Health Centre in India in just 10 days.

The hospital was conceived out of a refurbished rehabilitation facility in a small town, Dharampur in Gujarat State, Western India.

Located in a poor rural area which has been badly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospital has been running at 100 per cent occupancy. Installed with a piped oxygen supply, ventilators, haemodynamic monitors, bilevel positive airway pressure machines (BPAP) and an ICU ward, this hospital has been able to bring first class medical care to the inhabitants of 238 nearby villages.

Staffed by a physician, two anaesthetists, seven junior medical officers (JMOs) and nursing staff, the hospital treated 1,500 patients with COVID-19 within a week of opening.

With such a high demand for life-saving healthcare, a second facility, the Shrimad Rajchandra COVID Care Centre, was established in Dharampur not long after to treat patients with mild to severe COVID symptoms.

In addition to supporting the establishment of these two new health facilities in India, Dr Ghelani has been hard at work training the medical staff via Zoom meetings.

Through these telehealth sessions, he has been able to teach staff how to navigate the ventilatory and non-invasive ventilation (NIV) management of COVID-19 patients in addition to fluid management and vasopressors.

With the help of Dr Ghelani, the hospital staff are also involved in a community outreach program, visiting the homes of villager to screen them for COVID. And those villagers who test positive are referred to either facility for quarantine and monitoring.

Clinical updates

From the Critical Intelligence Unit

The Critical Intelligence Unit COVID-19 Monitor provides a snapshot of topical information and graphs – generally drawn from international and national sources. This week the Monitor focuses on COVID-19 vaccines administered, variants of concern and case numbers internationally. It has been updated with more recent data including graphs of daily and cumulative vaccine rates. See this week's COVID-19 Monitor.

In the past week, the Critical Intelligence Unit (CIU) Daily Digest has included a range of new articles.

Wow factor!

Western Sydney research shows risk of dying from COVID-19 infection

The risk of dying from COVID-19 infection triples with every ten years of age, according to international research conducted in Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD).

The research reviewed more than 100 studies encompassing hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 cases in developed countries across the globe, and found an exponential link between age and infection mortality rate.

This means that while the mortality rate is very low for children – around 0.002 per cent – it rises to 1.4 per cent at age 65 and 15 per cent at age 85, proving the disease is not only significantly more dangerous than seasonal influenza, but also poses a greater risk to middle-aged people than motor vehicle accidents.

WSLHD Diabetes Research Coordinator Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz is one of the authors behind two international studies examining the data, spearheaded by Professor Andrew Levin from Dartmouth College in the USA. The research has been quoted by leading bodies, including the US Centre for Disease Control and the Australian National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance.

Something to make you smile

‘Contact Trace’ digital art exhibition transforms Sydney/Sydney Eye Hospital’s historic façade

Recently hundreds of images captured in Sydney during the COVID-19 pandemic were projected onto Sydney/Sydney Eye Hospital's historic sandstone southern archway, at the Macquarie Street entrance.

The digital artwork, titled 'Contact Trace', depicted tales of humanity, fear and hope and featured some of Sydney/Sydney Eye Hospital's frontline staff, including nurses Mandy Man, Ruby Yang and Ann Sy, as well as Domestic Services team member, Melchora Bowie.

The exhibit was created by photographer John Janson-Moore and presented by the City of Sydney and Illuminart Australia, with support from the Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation and South East Sydney LHD.

Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation Chief Executive Officer Linda Fagansaid 'Contact Trace' was one of a series of three site-specific light artworks across Sydney's CBD, called 'Curated Stories in Light', displayed during the evenings of May 19 to 23.

"Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation was extremely proud to host this important exhibit – it was fantastic to see the iconic hospital building transformed into a public art space, enabling us to engage with the community in a new and different way," Ms Fagan said.

"The artistic installation was brought to life not only by moving images, but through music by composer Andrée Greenwell – and was produced by Jacqui North – who has a wealth of experience creating dynamic, collaborative cultural events and videos."

Jennie Barry, General Manager, Prince of Wales Hospital and Sydney/Sydney Eye Hospital, said the facility was Australia's first hospital and has cared for patients for over 200 years – including through the Spanish flu pandemic in 1919.

"COVID-19 marked another significant chapter in the hospital's history, with staff contributing to the pandemic response while continuing to provide specialist services to patients from all over NSW," Ms Barry said.

 Photographer John Janson-Moore


New material is available on the NSW Health website:

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The COVID-19 Update is sent directly to all employees across the health system to keep you informed of important clinical, workforce and government updates. Email story ideas, suggestions or feedback.

Current as at: Thursday 27 May 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW