Hundreds of COVID-19 patients in the Australian state of NSW were admitted to the hospital for a different condition, not because of the virus.
As of Monday morning, Jan. 3, there were 1,204 people with coronavirus in hospital in New South Wales, with 95 in ICU, according to local site News.com.au.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard admitted that up to half of those cases were not in hospital for COVID-19, raising doubts about the reported hospitalization figures.
“A reasonable proportion of cases being classified as COVID hospitalizations are people with other reasons for admission,” Hazzard said.
“Heart attacks, births, falls, none of that stops just because there is COVID. They come into hospital, they have a swab taken, and it confirms COVID,” he added.
The minister said that many of those listed in the daily statistics test positive in routine checks after being admitted for broken bones, labor pains, or mental health issues.
Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison has vowed to take action against the fake admissions.
Morrison confirmed on Tuesday that he would press premiers about the definition of hospitalization due to the virus. He has often said to look at hospitalization and death rates as actual indicators of the disease’s impact rather than raw case numbers.
“I make the point on hospitalization, and this is one of the things we’re going to have to discuss this week. I’m heading down to Canberra today, with the premiers is this definition of hospitalization,” he said.
“There are people being counted as being in hospital for COVID. They didn’t go there for COVID. They went there for some other reason and that’s why they were admitted, and they’ve been tested when they’re there and they’ve been found to have COVID.”
“So we need to get a standard definition on that because these are the key things we have to track now,” Morrison continued.