Tuesday, 21 Sep 2021

Covid 19 Australia: NSW lockdown exit at risk, Victoria mulls similar plan

New South Wales has recorded 1542 new local cases of Covid-19 and nine deaths.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned the peak of the outbreak is still expected in the weeks ahead, telling reporters “so far, this trajectory is what has been predicted”.

There are currently 1,156 cases admitted to hospital in NSW, with 207 people in intensive care, 89 of whom require ventilation. The death toll in the current outbreak is 162.

Since the Sydney outbreak began in mid-June, there have been 34,804 local cases reported.

NSW still plans to ease lockdown restrictions once 70 per cent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated, but that plan could be unsustainable if infections remain high, the Australian Medical Association has warned.

The AMA’s President Dr Omar Khorshid said NSW’s roadmap out of lockdown disregarded warnings that easing restrictions too soon would lead to higher case numbers than what has been predicted based on the government’s modelling.

“The Burnet modelling released by NSW recently was predicated on current restrictions remaining in place and did not include an assessment of what the changes announced today would mean for the health system,” he said.

“Unfortunately, [the government’s] plan appears to leave NSW at considerable risk of having to return to lockdowns.”

NSW hospitals are currently bracing for a huge spike in ICU patients through October, and the AMA warned the situation could get far more severe if restrictions are eased without a dramatic drop in daily case numbers.

“The Burnet analysis shows that NSW is likely to ease restrictions at a time when there will still be more than 500 infections each day and with the health system under considerable stress,” Khorshid said.

“We already know it is beyond the capacity of the NSW health system to effectively trace contacts of many hundreds of cases a day.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian yesterday warned residents that the freedoms yet to come would be only given to fully vaccinated citizens.

“You have been warned. If you’re not vaccinated, come forward and get the vaccine, otherwise you won’t be able to participate in the many freedoms that people have at 70 per cent vaccination.”

Of the eligible population in NSW, 43.6 per cent have been fully vaccinated and 76.4 per cent have had their first dose.

Victoria

Thousands of regional Victorians are waking up under eased restrictions after emerging from lockdown overnight, despite the state seeing a record 324 cases on Thursday and a further 334 cases today.

With the vast majority of infections concentrated in Melbourne’s north and west, all regional Victorians, apart from the Greater Shepparton area, will now see businesses and venues reopen, weddings and funerals allowed with capacity limits and schools to reopen for students.

It is understood Victorian chief health officer Professor Brett Sutton’s team was commissioned last month to produce an NSW-styled roadmap out of lockdown for Victoria, with three government sources telling The Age that the delay in producing a plan has left many increasingly frustrated.

So far, Victorians have only been promised a minor easing of restrictions when the state reaches 70 per cent first dose vaccinations, including extending the travel limit, increasing exercise time, allowing outdoor personal training, reopening skate parks and outdoor gym equipment and increasing construction site capacities.

Premier Daniel Andrews has previously hinted that fully vaccinated residents could be given more freedoms such as going to the pub, hairdresser or attending a sporting match, but no concrete plan has been revealed.

Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said the state needed to come up with a similar plan to NSW, adding they couldn’t “hide under the doona” forever.

“We’ve got to have plans to get out of this. We can’t just exist, we’ve got to live,” he told The Herald Sun.

“[NSW] have put a roadmap forward about how they’re going to get business out of lockdown, not just ­humans but business as well. I support a lot of what the NSW government has said. Victoria could have a good look at it.”

Andrews on Thursday acknowledged the frustration of residents who were uncertain about how the next few months would look.

“I’ve got some draft modelling [but] it’s still got a bit more to go. I know it’s very frustrating, you’d love to be able to turn this around in 24 hours, but they need more data as well,” he said.

Of the eligible population in Victoria, 39.4 per cent are fully vaccinated and 63.5 per cent have had their first dose.

There are 2426 active cases of Covid-19 across the state.

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