Hospital numbers key to easing lockdowns

By Paul Osborne
Easing COVID-19 restrictions too early could place hospitals under enormous pressure. (AAP)

State and territory roadmaps out of the COVID-19 pandemic will largely depend on how many people are being treated in hospital.

Victoria will on Sunday become the latest state to release its plan to ease restrictions, following NSW outlining its strategy last week.

The ACT government was hoping to end the national capital's lockdown this week, and lay out a pathway forward.

But instead the lockdown was extended to October 15, with only minor changes to restrictions.

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews said his state's roadmap, which would set out restrictions through to November, would depend on how much pressure hospitals face.

"We've got to follow the health advice otherwise we will crash our health system and give our nurses an impossible task and see many thousands of people very, very ill," he said.

Sydney's major outbreak continues to claim lives and cause serious illness with 1253 patients in NSW hospitals including 231 requiring intensive care.

The overwhelmingly majority are not fully vaccinated.

There are 158 people hospitalised in Victoria, including 45 in ICU, as the virus spreads in Melbourne.

Just one patient is fully vaccinated.

There are 10 people in hospital in the ACT, including two in intensive care.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr described it as a "challenging balancing act", with health system capacity being a key factor behind any easing of restrictions.

"What we are certain of is that a highly vaccinated Canberra is a safer Canberra," he said.

The national plan's full vaccination rate thresholds of 70 and 80 per cent are expected to be reached in late-October and mid-November.

On current figures, Australia should pass 70 per cent first dose vaccination coverage for people aged 16 and above by the end of this week.

More than 43 per cent of over-16s have full protection.

So far 59,000 children aged 12 to 15 have received a shot.

In NSW, there were 1127 new cases, the state's lowest rise in almost two weeks, but health authorities believe it's too early to predict a downward trend.

The two latest deaths took the state's toll for this outbreak to 186.

Victoria reported 445 new cases and two deaths, bringing its toll from the current outbreak to six.

Of the 22 cases reported in Canberra on Tuesday, only two were in quarantine for all of their infectious period.


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