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Gladys Berejiklian has said New South Wales plans to break vaccination records this month in an effort to control Covid-19, as the state recorded 239 new cases – the equal-highest daily figure in the current Delta outbreak.
The NSW premier on Sunday said higher vaccination rates were the “only way to live with Delta or any other horrific strain that comes along” and urged people in NSW to make August their month to come out and get vaccinated.
“If you look at other states in Australia, if you look at the restrictions that are in place, life with Delta means lockdowns one way,” she said.
“That is not a way to live, which is why we have been saying in NSW we would like this to be our last lockdown, so long as people get vaccinated.”
It comes as Queensland completes its first day of a three-day snap lockdown which was called in response to an outbreak of the Delta variant in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, which has grown to 18 cases, including nine reported overnight.
Meanwhile, Victoria recorded four new cases – all of which were in quarantine for their entire infectious period – at the tail end of an outbreak which was contained after a two-week lockdown.
Asked by reporters in Sydney if she thought NSW government could gain control of the outbreak before the four-week extension to the lockdown is up, Berejiklian said: “Of course we can.”
Provided, she said, there were high rates of vaccination in south-western and western Sydney and continued strong testing numbers.
“It is 1 August today,” she said. “I am an optimist, it is a month for all of us to come forward and get the vaccine. The more we get vaccinated, the more jabs in arms, the greater our pathway to having an easier life moving forward.”
Only eighty of the 239 cases in NSW are confirmed to have been in isolation for their entire infectious period, and 35 were isolated for part of their infectious period. Twenty-six were infectious in the community and the remaining 98 are under investigation.
The source of 125 of the new cases is also under investigation.
There are currently 222 people with Covid-19 in hospital in NSW, including 54 in intensive care and 25 on ventilators. Of those in ICU, seven are aged in their 20s. Only five of those in intensive care have received a dose of a Covid-19 vaccination, and none are fully vaccinated.
“It shows that the disease can be very serious in younger people as well is older people,” said Dr Jeremy McAnulty from NSW Health.
McAnulty confirmed that four people with Covid-19 in NSW have died in their homes since the latest outbreak began in mid-June.
When asked if she underestimated the Delta variant or should have acted quicker to call a snap lockdown, Berejiklian did not agree, saying “there is no roadmap for the Delta variant”.
“The benefit of hindsight is a great thing to have but other states might be facing regular lockdowns, in and out all the time.
“What I am saying for NSW is we want this to be – yes it is painful – but we want this to be the last lockdown we have, and we can make that happen if we get vaccinated. Because other states have shown, yes they are going in and out of lockdown but that is no way to live.”
NSW is aiming to have 80% of the state vaccinated, but Berejiklian said even having 60% of eligible adults vaccinated “gives you a whole lot more options”.
McAnulty urged those with any symptoms to get tested and “if you have a diagnosis of Covid-19 and are deteriorating, don’t hesitate to call 000 if you need to go to hospital or make contact with a health provider”.
In Queensland, genomic testing has linked the outbreak which was first detected in a 17-year-old student from Indooroopilly state high school to two people who arrived in the state from overseas. One of those people was treated at the Sunshine Coast University hospital on 17 July, and the state’s chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young, said she suspected that may be the source of transmission into the community.
Young said anyone on the Sunshine Coast who had any symptoms should get tested, “because I suspect that is where this outbreak started and then has reached a critical level where it has started to escalate and we have picked up at the escalation point”.
“I still think there will be cases there in the Sunshine Coast that we don’t know about and if we don’t find them, they will continue to spread,” she said.
Greater south-east Queensland went into a snap 72-hour lockdown at 4pm on Saturday after recording six new local cases linked to the Brisbane high school.
The deputy premier, Steven Miles, said it was the highest daily case increase in Queensland since August 2020.
Four of the new cases are linked to a karate school run out of a Brisbane high school.
There are now five schools which are considered exposures sites: Indooroopilly state high school, Ironside state school, St Peters Lutheran College, Brisbane Grammar School and Brisbane Girls Grammar.
Miles said the 11,468 tests conducted on Saturday was not good enough, and urged everyone to get tested. Young said the state should be aiming for 40,000 tests per day.
Authorities in Victoria and Queensland are also pushing for more people to be vaccinated. From Monday, second doses for Pfizer shots in Victoria will be pushed out from three weeks to six weeks in order to ensure more people have at least one shot.
The head of Australia’s vaccine response, Lt Gen John Frewen, said that every Australian “who wants access to a first dose [of a Covid-19 vaccine] will have that opportunity this year”.
“People who are eligible for Pfizer should should get out and get Pfizer but for everybody else they should go and make an informed choice now,” he told Sky News. “And if AstraZeneca is available they should get the AstraZeneca. I mean, one dose is better than none but two doses is the best is the best path out of that this.”