Australia

Victoria records 1,126 cases of COVID-19 as NSW awakes to new freedoms

Victoria has recorded 1,126 new local cases of COVID-19 and five deaths in the past 24 hours, while NSW has posted 187 new cases and seven deaths on the day that fully vaccinated residents can enjoy new freedoms.

Victoria has 556 people hospitalised with the virus, slightly down from the seven-day average of 628. Ninety-one people are in ICU across the state, with 54 on ventilation.

The figures come as GPs and pharmacies make coronavirus booster vaccinations available for those who had their second jab six months ago.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Sonya Bennett said two doses are highly effective in preventing people from getting sick with COVID-19, but some studies have shown that immunity does tend to wane over time.

“For those people 18 and up who had a vaccine at least six months ago we encourage you to make an appointment and get your booster dose,” Dr Bennett told reporters on Sunday.

“There is plenty of vaccine for all of us to get our booster.”

As the national booster rollout formally begins, Scott Morrison has admitted more work is needed to increase Indigenous COVID-19 vaccine rates.

While the national rate for fully-vaccinated over 16s has passed 80 per cent, immunisation rates among Indigenous communities are lagging.

The prime minister said there was still a long way to go to bridge the vaccination gap.

“There is a challenge in Indigenous communities, particularly in (WA and Queensland),” Mr Morrison told Newcastle radio.

“In NSW the Indigenous rate of vaccinations have been lifting and there’s been some rally good work there, but that is a challenge we find all around the world.”

New freedoms for NSW
In NSW, where there are 264 people in hospital and 48 in ICU, residents can now enjoy further freedoms under the state’s revised COVID-19 road map.

Double-jabbed NSW residents can now gather in bigger numbers while school kids will be allowed assemblies and excursions.

From Monday, NSW businesses will move to density restrictions of one person for every two square metres and fully vaccinated diners can book without number limits.

As many as 1,000 people can gather outdoors while stadiums, racecourses, theme parks, zoos, cinemas and theatres can operate at 100 per cent of their fixed-seated capacity.

School children will be able to enjoy music classes, excursions and assemblies from Monday while teachers who aren’t fully vaccinated will be suspended.

The state is on the brink of hitting 90 per cent full vaccination of people aged 16 and over, with 89.8 per cent now double-dosed. While 93.9 per cent of people aged 16 and over have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

It was revealed at a budget estimates hearing in NSW Parliament last week that about 4,900 teachers had not yet advised the Education Department of their vaccination status.

All unvaccinated NSW residents will have to wait until 15 December or when the state reaches a 95 per cent double-vaccination rate to enjoy greater freedoms.

Hundreds of protesters largely dressed in white came together to oppose vaccine mandates on Sunday in Parramatta, Wollongong, Coolangatta and on the Central Coast as part of “Reclaim The Line” rallies.

Australia passed a major milestone over the weekend of having 80 per cent of the national population aged 16 and over fully vaccinated.

But Dr Bennett is urging everyone to get on board and be vaccinated.

“COVID will be in the community in each and every area of Australia over time as we open up,” she warned.

“Everyone will be at risk of being exposed to COVID. The best way to protect yourself against diseases is to get vaccinated.”

From Monday Sydney’s mass COVID-19 vaccination hub at Qudos Bank Arena will be closed after delivering more than 360,000 vaccine doses since opening on 9 August.

The arena will return to hosting sport and entertainment events.

Elsewhere, authorities in Queensland’s far north are tracking down people who were at five venues in Cairns and Mission Beach when a COVID-19 patient, who is now in the Northern Territory, visited two weeks ago.

Authorities are also tracking down passengers who arrived in Cairns on the same flight as the woman from Adelaide on 25 October.

The 21-year-old is the index case of the NT’s three-case cluster, which triggered a three-day lockdown in Katherine and restrictions for Greater Darwin.

A lockout in both towns, where only vaccinated people can move freely in the community, has been extended until midnight on Monday to allow time for much-needed contact testing.

The ACT recorded 13 new infections and Queensland also announced three cases in hotel quarantine.

Source: sbs.com.au

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