South Australia orders review after deaths of four newborns during pandemic lockdown

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Four newborns who needed emergency heart surgery died during the past month in a women’s hospital in South Australia, media outlets in the country reported.

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Adelaide's Women's and Children's Hospital does not have heart surgery facilities or external oxygenation machines (ECMOs) for babies and children.

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The families were told that prevailing coronavirus pandemic rules prevented them being transported to Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne for treatment.

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The South Australian parliament committee inquiry was told by the hospital’s obstetrician and gynaecologist Professor John Svigos that the deaths could have been prevented had onsite cardiac treatment been available for babies, as was proposed more than a year ago.

Prof. Svigos said the usual process of referring infants to a Melbourne cardiac unit was “no longer tenable” because of the COVID-19 situation.

Daniel Andrews, Victoria State’s Premier, has denied claims that his coronavirus restrictions led to the tragic deaths of the newborns, contradicting testimony from the government inquiry.

Health Minister Stephen Wade expressed his sadness at the deaths of children and announced that South Australia Health would launch a review into the circumstances surrounding the deaths.

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