• A man has died in Dubbo. The regional city has the biggest number of confirmed COVID cases in western NSW. (NSW Health)Source: NSW Health
A Dubbo man has died as the state's coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen and spread in vulnerable communities.
By
Karen Michelmore, Sarah Collard

Source:
NITV News
30 Aug 2021 - 12:33 PM  UPDATED 30 Aug 2021 - 7:42 PM

An Aboriginal man has become the first person to die amid the COVID-19 outbreak in western NSW.

Western NSW Health CEO Scott McLachlan confirmed the death in a press conference this morning.

“A very sad and somber day today with the passing of a 50 –year-old Aboriginal man in Dubbo,” Mr McLachlan said.

“Our sincere sympathies and thoughts go out to the family and friends and the broader Aboriginal community across Dubbo and the whole of the region.”

It came as the state recorded at further 1290 cases overnight, and three other deaths in Sydney.

There were another 51 cases in Western NSW, and a further nine in the far west, including seven in Wilcannia.

Mr McLachlan said the man had underlying health conditions and wasn’t vaccinated. 

People urged not to delay vaccination

Mr McLachlan urged people to come forward and get vaccinated, and if they have any signs of symptoms to get tested. 

“This gentleman was not vaccinated,” Mr McLachlan said. 

“We know that people will die if the vaccines don’t get into arms. 

“We know that there’s a lot of misinformation out there, there’s a lot of opportunity for people to get vaccinated across western NSW. 

“Can I please implore everyone, this is time for us all to step get the jab, get double jabbed, don’t mess around any longer. 

“It’s a very sad day for Dubbo and the whole of the region.” 

There are currently 16 people in hospital with COVID across the western region – 12 in Dubbo, and four in Orange. 

Of these, four are in Intensive Care and three are on ventilators. 

“Vaccination is our solution to stop people dying,” Mr McLachlan said. 

“It stops people getting into intensive care, it stops people getting really crook.” 

Labor: fears death could be 'one of many'

Federal Labor's spokesperson for Indigenous affairs Linda Burney sent her condolences to the man's family and friends and said his death is having a devastating impact on the Dubbo community. 

'"He was grand uncle. He saw his grandchild just once."

Ms Burney said she is concerned there could be further deaths in Indigenous communities given the higher rates of chronic illnesses, overcrowded living conditions and lower vaccination rates. 

"I am terribly afraid that this could be the first death of many, I am not trying to be alarmist — I am trying to be realistic," she told NITV News. 

The Wiradjuri woman said his death was preventable and said more should have done to see that Western and Far Western New South Wales had greater access to vaccines. 

"The federal government was warned back in March, 2020, that this was going to be the outcome — They did not step in." 

The federal minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said he was "saddened" to hear of the man's death.

"I extend my deepest condolences to his family, the community and everyone touched by his passing – and ask that everyone respect the family’s and community’s privacy," he said in a statement.

"To all Indigenous Australians across Western NSW: We understand that these are very challenging times.

"Remain vigilant, stay at home and protect our mob. If you aren’t yet vaccinated, contact your local Aboriginal Health Service, GP or visit Australia.gov.au to get vaccinated as soon as possible."

Federal vaccine rollout slammed as COVID infects 275 Aboriginal people in Western NSW
Linda Burney says the outbreak in the region, which has infected 275 First Nations people, is a failure of the federal vaccine rollout and an 'unmitigated disaster.'