New South Wales has today recorded 1257 new local cases of Covid-19.
Seven Covid-related deaths were also reported by NSW Health, taking the death toll in the outbreak to 184. The new deaths include a woman in her 60s, three men in their 80s, two men in their 90s and a woman in her 90s.
There are currently 1189 cases admitted to hospital in NSW, with 222 people in intensive care, 94 of whom require ventilation.
NSW Health yesterday administered 21,892 Covid-19 vaccines. Of the eligible population in NSW, 46.2 per cent are now fully vaccinated and 78.5 per cent have had their first dose.
NSW’s plan to loosen lockdown restrictions risks leaving vulnerable people behind, with social services groups warning the double vaccination target of 70 per cent could ignore inequity in low-income communities.
The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) said research showing alarming vaccine divides between higher and lower income areas means high-risk groups in the low-income bracket are at risk of losing out when restrictions begin to ease.
ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie has called on Premier Gladys Berejiklian to urgently provide vaccination data by income to determine how big the vaccination divide is.
“We are seriously concerned about whether the road map has considered the effects on vulnerable groups if we don’t achieve safe vaccination rates in those groups specifically,” Goldie told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“We have already seen the terrible consequence of very low vaccination rates in places like Wilcannia [in north-western NSW]. There is a huge risk in maintaining a single focus on the aggregate target of 70 per cent.”
Under NSW’s roadmap to freedom, fully vaccinated residents will see a range of restrictions eased from the Monday after the state reaches its target of fully vaccinating 70 per cent of the eligible population.
The easing of restrictions will include allowing indoor and outdoor gatherings, reopening hospitality venues, retail and gyms, increasing capacity limits for weddings and funerals, reopening stadiums, theatres and major outdoor recreation facilities and allowing regional travel.
“We have also had input from the health experts and stakeholders to make sure that when we start reopening at 70 per cent double dose, that it is done in a safe way and it is only for people who are vaccinated,” Berejiklian told residents last week.
Victorian authorities are working to identify the close contacts of hundreds of Covid-19 cases with young people continuing to be the worst hit in the outbreak.
The state reported 473 local cases of Covid-19 today, another new grim record in the latest outbreak, as vaccination rates climb higher – of the eligible population in Victoria, 40.8 per cent are fully vaccinated and 66.2 per cent have had their first dose.
Today’s cases come as officials warn of an “emerging significant outbreak” at the Fitzroy Community School in Melbourne’s north after the school repeatedly flouted public health orders.
Deputy chief health officer Dan O’Brien said “urgent further investigations” are underway after latest numbers indicate at least 30 cases involving students and staff at the primary school.
Emails obtained by The Age reveal the school’s principal repeatedly invited parents to send their children to class despite the Melbourne lockdown, arguing that the damage to their mental health from extended periods of remote learning was potentially severe.
“I cannot in good conscience continue to request that you continue to keep your children at home. Please feel free to send your child to school if you feel that this is best for them or best for your family balance. I do not write this lightly, as this does breach government imposed directives for schools,” he wrote in a June 3 email.
Of the active cases across Victoria, 85 per cent are under the age of 50.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the statistic was a reminder that the virus “is everybody’s business”.
“That is the nature of a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Andrews said on Sunday. “That group is still too big for us to be able to open up, but as we slowly decrease the number of people who have not been vaccinated … there are more options.”
In a bid to drive vaccination numbers even higher, a number of pop-up centres will be set up across 100 postcodes of concern and at schools. Authorities are hoping to have all students aged over 12 vaccinated by the end of the year.
Over the weekend, leading epidemiologist Professor Catherine Bennett told The Age that Victoria’s high case numbers were accelerating faster than NSW’s due to “lockdown fatigue and slow vaccine uptake”.
“Victoria came in with a sledgehammer, but that still didn’t work,” she said. “Every time my partner comes back from his hour of exercise or bike ride, he tells me he’s seen 40 people with no mask and 20 with a mask, so there’s this sense that even early in this lockdown it quickly looked a bit like the end of the last big lockdown.”
Melbourne residents have been given no end date for their current lockdown, while locals in regional Victoria (excluding Shepparton) are enjoying their first free weekend after they were released from lockdown.
Health Minister Martin Foley said on Saturday there was no plan to reintroduce lockdown measures in regional Victoria, despite eight new cases being recorded far from Melbourne earlier in the day.
Queensland has recorded two new locally acquired Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours.
However, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she wasn’t “concerned” about the new infections because they have been in home isolation.
The cases are two students from Sir Thomas Moore School and are linked to the Sunnybank cluster that began after a 13-year-old student tested positive on Friday.
The source of the infection is not yet known, but the school was closed on Friday after the student was determined to have been at school for three days during the week while infectious.
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