Fully vaccinated Australians in the locked-down state of New South Wales (NSW) will be offered more “freedoms” from September after the target of six million CCP virus vaccine doses was achieved, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Aug. 24.
Berejiklian said it was an amazing milestone and that she was “deeply grateful” to the many who had come forward in recent weeks to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
The premier said she would announce later this week at least what one of those “extra freedoms” might be for fully vaccinated people, declining to detail what the changes could be or whether they will apply to hotspot areas including Blacktown and Canterbury-Bankstown.
“We’re having those conversations now,” Berejiklian said, saying the chief doctor and chief psychiatrist’s advice will be sought on what sorts of low-risk activities people need, which might also include consideration of their links to mental health.
NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said the goal remained to reduce cases, with every 10 positive cases currently infecting about 13 people—mainly in workplaces and households.
“The way to stop that cycle is to vaccinate, keep people and to get those vaccination coverage levels up very high,” she said.
This comes as 753 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 were recorded in NSW out of more than 138,000 tests in the 24 hours to 8 p.m. on Aug. 23, Chant said.
Although the new daily total was down on the three-day average of more than 800, with most cases in western and southwestern Sydney, the premier said there was “no way” to call a one-day dip a “trend.”
“I don’t want people to ride the roller coaster of emotions on the case numbers every day,” Berejiklean said. “Let’s get focussed on the vaccine rates because that is what will determine how we can live going forward.”
As of Aug. 24, NSW had 11,484 active COVID-19 cases, with 107 of these cases in ICU. The premier noted the when the pandemic began, the state had quadrupled its ICU capacity to about 2,000.
This gave Berejiklean confidence that the state’s hospital system could handle the higher case numbers predicted in modelling by the Doherty Institute once the 80 percent vaccination target is reached.
The state’s chief health officer said about 608 people were being treated in the hospital. Of the cases in ICU, 95 were unvaccinated, 12 had received their first dose, and the ages ranged across the spectrum, Chant said.
Chant said that “on a sad note,” there were many people aged over 70 who had not yet received their first dose, and urged their family members to “assist them” to get the vaccine.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said Australia’s case numbers were “all relative” compared to other countries with far higher numbers.
“Overseas, they’ve got tens of thousands of cases every day,” he told Nine on Tuesday. “I was talking to [UK Prime Minister] Boris Johnson the other day (and) he’s amazed that our cases are that low.”
Sydney will remain in lockdown until Sept. 30, but regional parts of the state are expected to ease restrictions on Aug. 28.
Australian Associated Press contributed to this report.