NSW lifts curfew as it reaches crucial vaccine milestone
NSW has confirmed another 1259 local COVID cases and 12 more deaths, as it nudges a crucial vaccination milestone.
Wednesday’s cases bounced up again after just over 1100 on Tuesday, reversing a recent trend of falling numbers.
It was also the equal highest daily tally of COVID deaths yet for the state. Its total toll from the current outbreak is 198.
They were women in their 30s, 50s, 60s, two in their 70s and two in their 80s, as well as one man in his 50s, two in their 60s and two more aged in their 70s and 90s.
In positive news, the state is tantalisingly close to 80 per cent of eligible people with a single COVID vaccine – sitting at 79.5 per cent of over 16s on Wednesday. That prompted another major announcement from Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
“Given we’ve hit the 80 per cent milestone across the state, we’re able to lift the curfew in those areas of concern from tonight,” she said.
“This is a whole-of-government decision based on a number of factors but I want to send this strong message – we can’t move on anything else just now. We need everybody to hold the line.
“Please make sure that if you live in those local government areas of concern that you stick to every other rule that’s in place. We’ve seen a stabilisation in the past few days and we don’t want to see that trend go the wrong way.”
The 9pm-5am curfew has applied for weeks to more than two million residents of the 12 Sydney local government areas that have borne the brunt of the outbreak.
“We can all see the light at the end of the tunnel but we still have work to do,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“To reach our first dose of 80 per cent is a huge tribute to everybody in the community and some of our communities in western and south-western Sydney have vaccination rates closer to 90 per cent. [That’s] just an outstanding result compared to where we’ve been and where we are today.”
Across NSW, 47.5 per cent of the population over 16 is fully vaccinated against COVID.
Ms Berejiklian said if the trend continued, the state would be able to reopen at its 70 per cent double-dose target and “feel confidence that we won’t overwhelm the hospital system and we’ll enjoy those freedoms we’re all looking forward to”. NSW is expected to reach that benchmark within weeks.
Under the state government’s roadmap, vaccinated people will then be released from lockdown.
“It’s black and white. If you’re not vaccinated, you can’t go to a restaurant, you can’t go to a cafe,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“At 70 per cent double dose, everybody, every business leader, every community member should be very clear that the health orders will be saying that you cannot go and do anything on the road map, which was specified, unless you are completely vaccinated.”
Elsewhere, chief health officer Kerry Chant said a case had been found after wastewater detections of the virus in Young. The infected person also spent time in Wagga Wagga and Mudgee.
“I call upon all of those communities to be vigilant for symptoms and our NSW Health website will be updated with exposure venues,” she said.
Young is reportedly rife with rumours it will locked down after the positive case. But Dr Chant would say only that “additional advice” was being sought.
“There is a process if there are cases in towns and we advise on action. We are pulling those pieces together with exposure sites. It is important that everyone in Young follows that public advice, which will be issued locally,” she said.
“There are a number of venues and other urgent testing is being undertaken.”
The ACT had another 13 local cases on Wednesday. Its lockdown was extended until October 15 on Tuesday.
Victoria’s COVID toll rises
Victoria has another 423 coronavirus infections and two deaths, as total active infections in the state climbs above 4000 cases.
The deaths bring the toll from Victoria’s current outbreak to eight.
The health department confirmed on Wednesday that 149 cases were linked to known outbreaks. The source of the remainder is being investigated.
In the 24 hours to Wednesday morning, 54,649 tests were processed and a record 41,856 Victorians received a vaccine dose at a state-run hub.
The department said more information on the cases and two deaths will be provided later on Wednesday.
It is not yet known if one of the deaths is a 46-year-old man who worked at a Serco call centre in Mill Park.
Martin Blight became infected with COVID-19 after a workplace outbreak and died in hospital on Monday, according to the Australian Services Union.
He “became unwell with coronavirus” after being identified as a close contact due to his workplace becoming a tier one exposure site, the ASU said.
It’s not known if Mr Blight was vaccinated but he had a Pfizer vaccine booked in for September, according to his Facebook page.
Meanwhile, Premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed Victoria’s roadmap out of lockdown will be released on Sunday.