New South Wales has recorded 882 new local cases of Covid-19.
Two Covid-related deaths were also reported by NSW Health – a man in his 60s and a man in his 90s. The death toll in the current outbreak now stands at a total of 81.
There are currently 767 Covid-19 cases admitted to hospital in NSW, with 117 people in intensive care, 47 of whom require ventilation.
Since the Sydney outbreak began in mid-June, there have been 16,556 local cases reported.
Most of NSW is nearly 10 weeks into lockdown but chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant has warned that the state is still yet to hit the peak of its current outbreak.
Chant, speaking with reporters yesterday after a record 1029 new cases were reported, painted a bleak picture of the months to come, saying infection numbers “may well go way above” 1000 per day.
“My advice to government is that the case numbers may well continue to go up before we see the trajectory of downward transmission,” she said.
“We have seen some deterioration in some of those metrics because people are obviously feeling so tired and frustrated with the length and duration of the restrictions … Clearly we’re at 1000, and I would indicate to you that the numbers may well go way above a thousand cases.”
The reproductive rate of the outbreak — the average number of people each infected person goes on to infect — stands at 1.3, meaning every 10 infected people could potentially spread the virus to 13 others.
Leading University of Melbourne epidemiologist James McCaw, a member of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), told The Sydney Morning Herald last Wednesday that, with infections likely to keep climbing over the next fortnight, he would not be surprised if NSW recorded up to 2000 daily cases within a month.
“Our models show the possibility of increases and decreases, but I think it’s more likely to be well over 1000 and up to 2000 within a month or so,” he said.
After abandoning all hope 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, 33.8 per cent now fully vaccinated and 62.8 per cent have received their first dose.
Victoria has recorded 79 new local cases of Covid-19 as infections continue to remain high despite the state’s sixth lockdown.
Of the new cases, 53 are linked to known outbreaks and 26 are under investigation. There are now 660 active coronavirus cases across the state.
It appears unlikely that the state’s lockdown will end on September 2, as planned, given there are still mystery cases emerging each day and a high percentage of the cases are not in isolation.
However, authorities haven’t ruled out making some minor changes and one of the key restrictions some experts have flagged could be eased first is the controversial playground ban.
It was brought in because of the high numbers of children catching the virus, but authorities admitted yesterday that evidence of playground transmission was inconclusive so far.
“We don’t get a definitive answer. We don’t have an alternative explanation and that becomes a working hypothesis,” chief health officer Brett Sutton told reporters yesterday.
“We can’t see the virus transmit from one person to another so we don’t know definitively.”
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has repeatedly said he wants to see multiple days of all new cases in isolation before lifting the statewide lockdown.
Epidemiologist Adrian Esterman told The Age yesterday: “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.”
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