New South Wales has reported 1,029 new local cases of Covid-19 – another new record for the state – with the source of infection for 844 of those cases still under investigation.
There were also three Covid-related deaths reported by NSW Health – a man in his 30s, a man in his 60s and a man in his 80s. All were unvaccinated. The death toll in the current Sydney outbreak now stands at 79.
There have been 15,684 locally acquired cases reported since mid-June when the first case in the Sydney outbreak was detected.
Despite the worsening situation, some lockdown rules have been eased by the government. Fully vaccinated households in local government areas of concern can now gather outside for recreation, and groups of five fully vaccinated people who live outside of the local government areas of concern can gather outdoors.
Having abandoned all hopes of eliminating the virus in her state, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has urged residents to turn their attention away from the climbing infections and toward vaccination rates.
The state on Tuesday reached its initial goal of administering six million jabs. Of the NSW population over the age of 16, a third are now fully vaccinated and 61.5 per cent have received their first dose.
“There is no doubt people would be alarmed by rising case numbers,” Berejiklian told reporters yesterday after a record 919 local cases. “But it’s a mark of how vaccines work that the hospitalisation rate is relatively low.”
There are 698 Covid-related hospitalisations in NSW, but the number of people in intensive case has jumped in the past week from 77 to 116.
“It is not pleasing to see 98 of the people in ICU are not vaccinated,” a frustrated Dr Kerry Chant told reporters yesterday.
“I think this highlights the fact that vaccination is the key. We need to increase those vaccine coverage levels and can I just urge everyone to take up the opportunity for vaccination as soon as possible.”
Victoria has recorded 80 new local cases of Covid-19 – marking a stark increase from yesterday’s 45 cases. There were 13 mystery cases and 41 cases active in the community.
It means that, of the 80 cases, 67 are linked to current outbreaks and only 39 have been in quarantine throughout their infectious period.
Premier Daniel Andrews has repeatedly said he wants to see multiple days of all new cases in isolation before lifting Victoria’s lockdown, which is currently scheduled to end on September 2.
Epidemiologist Adrian Esterman told The Age today: “What worries me most is the number of mystery cases continues to grow each day even with [the] harshest restrictions. It tells me lockdown isn’t enough.”
When asked on Monday if there was any chance of getting control of the outbreak by September 2, Victoria’s Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said he remained hopeful.
“If we continue to work together, we have pulled six, seven outbreaks now in the last eight months, so collectively as a Victorian community we can absolutely do that,” he said. “We can cap the rising cases and get it down, because if we don’t, we are looking at [NSW] and that’s what is awaiting us.”
Melbourne University epidemiologist Tony Blakely has suggested a “soft lockdown” as an alternative approach if the outbreak cannot be contained by early September.
If the state shifted to a soft lockdown in September, vaccination rates would catch up with new case numbers, his modelling showed.
“A soft lockdown would see your cases peak at about 300 or 400 per day, and then start to come down as you caught it by November,” he told the ABC. “So that’s one option. It’s really just putting it out there for discussion at the moment.”
An ‘outbreak of young people’ in Melbourne
New statistics breaking down the Covid cases that have emerged in Victoria this winter show how the Delta strain is spreading.
The Herald Sun has crunched the numbers and found that victims of the virus are becoming increasingly younger.
Of the 888 confirmed coronavirus cases in Victoria between June 1 and August 23, 37 per cent were aged under 20 – including 132 cases among those aged 0-9 and another 152 cases for those aged 10-19.
With a further 164 cases detected among Victorians in their 20s, a whopping 58 per cent of the state’s recent cases have been under 30.
Only 5 per cent of Victoria’s coronavirus cases since the start of June have been aged over 60.
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley has described the latest Covid-19 situation in the state as “an outbreak of young people”.
There are 538 active cases in the state with 114 of those aged under nine, 101 aged between nine and 19 and a further 89 in their 20s.
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