Vaccination against COVID-19 is beginning to dampen down transmission of the virus in NSW, health authorities believe, as the state records an additional 1127 infections and two more deaths.
A man in his 50s and a woman in her 80s – both from western Sydney – died, taking the toll for the current NSW outbreak to 186, and 242 for the entirety of the pandemic.
There are 1253 COVID-19 patients in NSW hospitals, with 231 in intensive care and 104 on ventilators.
With almost 79 per cent of eligible residents at least partially vaccinated, NSW Health’s Jeremy McAnulty said immunisation was placing downward pressure on daily infections.
He urged caution, however, saying daily infections had flattened in the past before surging again.
“We’d like to see a few more days before we can have confidence about whether there is a trend,” he said on Tuesday.
A peak in daily infections has been expected this week. But the strain on hospitals is not expected to peak until October, and in intensive care units soon afterwards.
“We’re seeing pleasingly that cases haven’t been increasing as fast as they had been, but that may be an effect of the weekend … we’ll see what’s happening throughout the rest of the week,” Dr McAnulty said.
Vaccination rates have surged across much of Sydney, including in some of the hardest-hit regions. But NSW Health deputy secretary Susan Pearce said the vaccination rate in Parramatta was lower than average.
“Most of the other LGAs have come up very significantly and you must remember only a few short weeks ago we were talking about rates, first-dose rates of, in some cases, less than 20 per cent.
“We’re now seeing those LGAs with rates above 70 per cent and 80 per cent in terms of first dose. That’s remarkable,” she said.
She said the jump in some western Sydney suburbs was down to hundreds of thousands of Polish Pfizer doses given to NSW.
“You can see where we focused the Polish Pfizer over the three weeks and again 970,000 vaccines in three weeks by NSW Health during that period. What we’re seeing now is the result of that,” Dr Pearce said.
The NSW government has already revealed its roadmap for restoring freedoms to the fully vaccinated at 70 per cent double-dose coverage, which is expected in about a month.
Additional freedoms will be restored at 80 per cent double-dose coverage, including the return of international travel.
Up to five fully vaccinated adults who live outside the 12 Sydney COVID-19 hotspot areas can now gather outdoors in their local area.
Vaccinated households that live in the 12 local government areas of concern can gather outdoors for recreation for two hours, outside curfew hours, and within five kilometres of home.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has denied the unvaccinated would have their freedoms restored at 80 per cent double-dose vaccination coverage in NSW, saying details were still being finalised.
More than 46 per cent of those aged over 16 are fully jabbed, with a large chunk of second doses booked in for October.
Elsewhere in NSW, there were fears for the town of Young, where the virus has been found in wastewater tests. The nearby southern tablelands town of Yass was back in lockdown on Tuesday after confirmation of a positive case.
Fragments of the virus were detected in the Yass LGA at the weekend, and the positive case confirmed late on Monday afternoon – quickly followed by renewed stay-at-home orders.
“There’s been no cases reported in Young so I would just be urging everybody in that community, or who has been in that community, to come forward for testing with even the mildest of symptoms, so if there are cases there in the community, we can identify those quickly,” Dr McAnulty said.