NSW records 1533 new covid cases, four deaths; preps emergency hospital ‘surge’. Video / ABC News
With Victoria recording 190 new local coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, there are fears the state could be following in the footsteps of its northern neighbours.
Victoria is now battling 1301 active cases, with more than 400 children infected with the virus. According to the latest numbers, 76 people are in hospital, with 23 people in intensive care and 14 people on ventilators.
Addressing media today, the state’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton admitted there was “every possibility” Victoria is on a similar outbreak trajectory to Sydney.
It’s admittedly a scenario no state wants to be in. Today, NSW recorded a pandemic-high of 1533 cases, with the death toll for the latest outbreak at 123.
“I think a lot of people are a bit concerned now that we’re on the same trajectory as Sydney and we’re maybe three or four weeks behind Sydney,” he said.
“I mean, we could be. That is a scenario. There’s every possibility that we’re following a slow and steady increase in the way that NSW has.”
Despite trying to avoid a NSW-style outbreak, this week’s increasing numbers suggest Victoria’s Covid cases will continue to increase.
After recording 73 cases on Monday, they jumped to a high of 209 cases on Friday, with Professor Sutton stating that they’ve yet to reach their peak.
“We can’t say for sure when case numbers will peak,” he told reporters today.
Central Station in Sydney, is near empty on August 13, 2021 as greater Sydney continues a weeks-long Covid-19 lockdown. Photo / AP”The trend over seven-day periods has been incremental increasing and I expect that to happen until we get higher vaccination coverage.”
According to epidemiologist Tony Blakely, the current increase in cases could see figures peak to 2000 a day in October.
“We lost that headroom because cases are going up … and the game has changed,” he told The Age, adding that restrictions cannot be eased while cases were increasing by 5 per cent per day.
“If the virus was continuing on its current trajectory, just using a simple Excel model, we are going to peak in October at 2000 a day. That’s not a scenario we’re looking forward to.
“If it went from 5 per cent daily increase to even 6 or 7 per cent, at the end of October, that peak would be two or three times higher. We really are in a bind.”
However, University of South Australia epidemiologist and biostatistician Adrian Esterman said the “borderline” condition in Victoria could still go either way.
He said Victoria’s quick and hard lockdown helped give the state a head start in preventing the skyrocketing figures we’re seeing in NSW.
“There is still a chance they could bring it under control,” he told news.com.au.
“The key thing there is their daily case numbers aren’t so big. Their contact tracers can handle it.”
Luck is also a factor, he admitted.
“A lot of it is luck, and a lot of it’s dependent on the city size, how much commuting there is – all these things come into play,” Professor Esterman said.
For both states, the race to get vaccinated has been dubbed the key path for residents to return to some semblance of a normal life.
While the idea of Covid-zero has been a distant memory for NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Andrews also surrendered the once gold standard of virus suppression earlier this week.
Technicians prepare Pfizer vaccines at the newly-opened Covid-19 Vaccination Centre in Sydney, Australia. Photo / AP”We have thrown everything at this, but it is now clear to us that we are not going to drive these numbers down, they’re instead going to increase,” he said on Wednesday.
Like NSW, Victoria will be allowed to gradually “reopen” once 70 per cent of the state’s eligible population is vaccinated.
Currently, Victorians will have access to a wider range of freedoms from September 23 onwards, which the Premier has dubbed as the day he believes 70 per cent of residents will be inoculated with their first jab.
This includes an increased 10km radius for shopping and exercise and an increase of outdoor exercise from two to three hours a day.
This comes as Moderna has become the third vaccine approved by Australian health authorities, with the Therapeutic Goods Administration giving it the tick of approval for children aged 12 and over.
While children in that age group may also access Pfizer, there is currently no vaccine for children under 12.
When it comes to Australia’s vaccine push, NSW is currently leading the nation, with 72 per cent of people aged over 16 years old having received at least one jab and almost 40 per cent full jabbed.
In contrast, 36 per cent of Victorians are fully vaccinated, with 59 per cent having had the first dose.