The death of a Sydney man in his 20s from Covid-19 has prompted authorities to urge young people to get vaccinated and to be wary of how serious the virus is.
Forklift driver Aude ‘Ady’ Alaskar, 27, from Warwick Farm, is the youngest person to die of Covid in New South Wales since the pandemic began in March 2020. No other person in their 20s has died.
He collapsed in his home in south-west Sydney, with the NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, confirming he was not vaccinated.
Alaskar, who got married earlier this year, caught the virus from his wife, an aged care worker, the ABC reports.
His cousin, Bash Mnati, remembered him as a “perfect man”.
“He was so nice, he was so good, he never had any trouble with anyone,” Mnati told the ABC.
“He just got married about three months ago and his wedding party was in two months’ time. He was a soccer player, he was a very fit guy. He used to always do sports. He never smoked, doesn’t drink.”
The Gunners Soccer Club, where he played, also paid tribute on Facebook.
“Ady was a true gentleman both on and off the field and will be greatly missed. Rest in Peace Brother.”
Alaskar was in day 13 of his home isolation after catching the disease. He was being checked on daily by staff from the South Western Sydney Local Health District.
The NSW chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said he had “suddenly deteriorated” and that he had no underlying conditions.
“He did complain of feeling a little fatigued but the deterioration happened suddenly is my understanding,” she said.
“We are aware that with Covid you can get sudden deaths and I think that is important to understand that your health status can deteriorate and you can have sudden death with Covid.”
Chant also said the man was living with someone else at the time, and that they had also tested positive and been admitted to hospital.
“You can imagine the trauma for that other person who has now been hospitalised. That person also had Covid and that person has been hospitalised and offered all care. You can imagine how traumatic such an event was,” Chant said.
The man’s death will be referred to the coroner.
Professor Sarah Palmer, co-director of the Centre for Virus Research at The Westmead Institute for Medical Research, said a “dramatic” drop in oxygen levels can cause people with Covid-19 to deteriorate quickly.
“Typically, it can be someone whose oxygen levels have dropped dramatically, and their lungs can absolutely collapse, and that’s usually what a very rapid Covid-19 infection does to people.
“And I understand this person had problems with breathing, and in many cases that’s because your oxygen levels drop dramatically, to the point where you collapse and need to be taken to an intensive care unit to receive oxygen.”
Palmer urged young people to take whichever vaccination they could, whether AstraZeneca or Pfizer.
“I think for everyone who is young and thinking ‘Oh, I’m not susceptible to this virus’, this Delta variant is extremely contagious. And I do believe that if I was younger, I would be getting vaccinated as soon as possible.
“The vaccine that is the best vaccine for you to take right now is the one that you have access to and with this variant being so contagious, I think people should get vaccinated as soon as they can.”
Prof Greg Dore, an infectious diseases doctor with St Vincent’s hospital in Sydney, described the Delta outbreak as “an epidemic of younger people”.
“Rapid deterioration in a younger person is unusual, but not unheard of,” said Dore, who helps to manage Covid patients quarantining in the community.
“A coroner’s report is essential to determine factors contributing to death.”
The NSW Health minister, Brad Hazzard, urged young people to heed the government’s calls to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“Sadly, we just heard one young person in his 20s has passed away which I think emphasises what we have been saying now for quite some time about two-thirds of all of our cases are currently under 40 years old.
“My strong encouragement to young people, to older people, is to go and get the vaccine.”
It comes as NSW recorded 233 locally acquired cases on Wednesday. In addition to the death of Mr Alaskar, a woman in her 80s from Sydney’s inner west, who was also unvaccinated, died overnight.
The Covid death toll in NSW since the latest outbreak began in Sydney in mid-June is 16. Since the pandemic began the death toll stands at 73.