NSW has reported 818 more local COVID cases and three virus-related deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday.
The three people who died were in all their 80s, and had underlying health conditions.
A man in his 80s from south-west Sydney died at Liverpool Hospital, where he acquired his infection. His is the 11th death linked to an outbreak at the hospital’s geriatric ward.
Another man in his 80s from Newcastle died at John Hunter Hospital, having acquired his infection at the RFBI Hawkins Masonic Village in Edgeworth. His is the second death linked to the aged-care facility outbreak.
And a woman in her 80s from south-west Sydney died at Campbelltown Hospital.
Their deaths bring the total number linked to the current outbreak to 74.
Focus on vaccination
Premier Gladys Berejiklian sent her “deepest condolences” to the families of the people who died.
She urged other NSW residents worried about the stubbornly high case numbers to focus on the state’s rising vaccination rate.
“We want to see [the case numbers] go down, no doubt about that, and we’re working so hard to make that possible, but the number we need to focus on is the vaccination rate,” she said.
“When we reach 70 per cent double dose, we will be able to live more freely. When we get to 80 per cent double dose, essentially, we would have normalised the way we treat COVID.”
The Premier said NSW was on course to hit the crucial 70 per cent threshold outlined in the Doherty Institute report by the end of October but could get there sooner.
Ms Berejiklian once again told residents that they would have to learn to “live with COVID” as the government could not “keep Delta out forever”.
She later added that by the end of the week authorities would provide an update on the return to school and tell fully vaccinated people what added freedoms they could enjoy in September and October.
So far, the state has administered 5,951,886 vaccines. The Premier had set a target of six million jabs by the end of August but NSW is likely to reach that goal “a week early”.
Victoria’s COVID outbreak also took a turn for the worse on Monday, with 71 more local cases. Just 16 were in isolation while infectious, and the sources of 22 infections are a mystery.
Premier Daniel Andrews pleaded for people to take isolation requirements seriously on the back of the numbers.
“If you’re asked to isolate, it is incredibly important that you do that,” he said.
“There’s no ducking down the shops or going and visiting someone. There’s no room for error, there is literally no room for error, you have got to be isolating for the entirety of that 14-day period.”
Victoria has 494 active cases, with 29 people in hospital including nine in intensive care, five of whom are on ventilators. Nearly half are aged under 20.
Mr Andrews said nearly 186,000 COVID shots were administered in Victoria last week. And there are more than 52,000 appointments available this week. But he sounded a warning for Victorians.
“The notion we can vaccinate people as fast as the Delta virus infects people, that is not what the Doherty modelling shows, it’s not the national cabinet agreed position,” he said.
“You know, many thousands of patients will overwhelm all of us.”
Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged state and territory leaders to stop using lockdowns as a containment measure once vaccination rates surpass the crucial 70 per cent threshold.
“We will live with this virus, like we live with other infectious diseases,” Mr Morrison said.
“We know clearly that lockdowns, once you move past that level, come at more cost than gain.”
Mr Morrison said the focus would shift to hospitalisation numbers rather than daily cases when immunisation targets were hit.
“That is our goal – to live with this virus, not to live in fear of it,” he said.
Consensus has frayed, with Western Australia refusing to budge from its zero-case goal and Queensland warning it might not reopen its NSW border even at the higher jab threshold.
The ACT’s Delta outbreak also grew on Monday, with another 16 cases taking it to 137.
Of Monday’s 818 cases in NSW, 120 have been linked to a known case or cluster while the source of infection for 698 is under investigation.
Just 47 were in isolation throughout their infectious period.
The case numbers were detected from 311,083 tests and take the total number in this outbreak to 13,022. About 140,000 tests due to a backlog of negative results that could not be processed on the day they were notified.
NSW authorities said 586 COVID-19 cases had been admitted to hospital and 100 into intensive care, 32 of whom require ventilation.
Deputy chief health officer Marianne Gale said authorities “remain concerned” about transmission in south-west Sydney.
“I again call on the populations of the following suburbs to please be vigilant for symptoms, please follow public health orders, and please get vaccinated,” she said.
“They are people from Blacktown and surrounding suburbs, Merrylands, Guildford, Auburn, Greystanes, Greenacre, and Bankstown.”
Dr Gale also urged people in Bateau Bay to come forward for testing after the virus had been detected in the local sewerage.