Five more people have died, and another 1281 local COVID cases have been confirmed in NSW, as Premier Gladys Berejiklian finally made public modelling for the looming peak in the state’s virus crisis.
“We are likely to reach a peak in cases in the next week or so, that is what the modelling tells us, therefore a likely peak in intensive care beds required around early- to mid-October,” she said on Monday.
“While things are stretched now, we appreciate they are going to have additional pressure put on the system in the next few weeks.”
Ms Berejiklian said NSW typically had about 400 non-virus patients in intensive care at any one time. As of Monday, it had 177 COVID patients in ICU – and surge capacity and staff to cater for 1550 patients.
That is less than a previously announced surge capacity of 2000 beds.
“I do want to qualify to say that modelling depends on a number of things, a number of variables,” she said.
“If too many of us do the wrong thing, there are too many super-spreading events, we could see those numbers be what they are.”
- See the NSW Health modelling here
Overall, there are 1071 COVID-19 patients in NSW in hospital, with numbers climbing steadily every week.
Professor Tony Blakely, a public health specialist at the University of Melbourne, said on Monday case numbers in NSW could hit 3000 a day before peaking. High hospitalisation numbers could also last a year.
“We’re all going to have to deal with it because next year, when we open the borders, we will have high hospitalisation numbers for at least a year,” he told ABC TV.
As businesses open up in October or November and children return to school, COVID-19 transmissions will increase so “we have quite a balancing act here and quite a discussion to have about trade-offs”, he said.
Ms Berejiklian has pledged to restore some freedoms for residents upon 70 per cent double-dose vaccination coverage. That is expected in mid-October.
Meanwhile, thousands of essential workers in Sydney’s 12 local government area COVID-19 hotspots have been given a two-week reprieve on an order to get their first COVID-19 jab, if they want to work outside those areas.
The government has given workers two more weeks to get a vaccine but they have to book an appointment by Wednesday.
From November 8, all NSW school and preschool staff must have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The deaths reported in NSW on Monday were two men age in their 60s and 90s, one woman in her 50s and two in their 80s. They take the state’s toll from its current outbreak to 131.
Chief health officer Kerry Chant said the man in his 60s tested positive to the virus during the coronial process after his death.
Victoria’s cases spike
Victoria has confirmed 246 more local coronavirus cases, as a vaccination blitz for senior school students begins.
The state health department on Monday confirmed 121 cases were linked to known outbreaks.
The source of the remaining 125 infections remains under investigation.
There are a total of 1619 active COVID-19 cases in the state, which will remain under tough lockdown restrictions until at least 70 per cent of eligible Victorians receive their first vaccine dose.
The state achieved 60 per cent first dose coverage on Sunday, and is expected to reach the 70 per cent target by about September 18, sooner than the government initially anticipated.
“We have just got to keep the work going to get us there as soon as possible,” Health Minister Martin Foley said.
“We are, of course, well on the way to our million target over five weeks, but we still have another 316,000 vaccines to go to get us to that milestone.”
COVID patients in Victorian hospitals include 13 who were not vaccinated (and were not eligible when they caught the virus). A further 67 are unvaccinated and had been eligible, while 10 are partially vaccinated.
One was fully vaccinated, but that person had since been discharged from hospital to return home on Monday, Mr Foley said.
“I will reiterate this as many times as we possibly can and in as simple terms as we possibly can – this current outbreak is targeting the unvaccinated because that’s where the virus will go,” he said.