NSW residents urged to open up safely as state records 646 new local COVID-19 cases

The state reported 646 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths, as some doctors raise concerns about changes to the roadmap out of lockdown.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant addresses media during a press conference in Sydney, Tuesday, August 31, 2021.(AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts) NO ARCHIVING

NSW Chief Health Officver Dr Kerry Chant addresses media during a press conference in Sydney. Source: AAP

NSW is being cautioned to be COVID-safe amid the excitement of the state reopening next week, as it records 646 new local infections. 

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said people were looking forward to opening up on Monday but urged everyone to continue wearing masks and maintain physical distancing.

"It's an exciting time but I caution everyone to do everything safely," she said in a NSW Health livestream on Friday. 

NSW records 646 new local cases

There have now been 414 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the outbreak in June, including nine men and two women in the last 24 hours.

Some 856 people are in NSW hospitals with COVID-19 with 170 of them in intensive care and 75 on ventilators.

There was also concern about the increase of COVID-19 infections in the Hunter New England area with 97 cases reported there.

As of midnight on Wednesday 89.4 per cent of people 16 and over had received their first dose of a vaccine.

Concern over changes to state's roadmap 

The Australian Medical Association of NSW said changes to the state's plan to emerge from lockdown could overwhelm the hospital system and burn out healthcare workers.

"Relaxing restrictions too soon will not be a 'popular' decision if it means the number of people contracting the virus and ending up in hospital skyrockets," AMA NSW President Danielle McMullen said.

But Katherine Gibney from the Doherty Institute says while COVID case numbers will go up as restrictions loosen, easing out of lockdown is inevitable.

"Hopefully with high vaccination rates we'll be protected against the more severe disease and those requiring hospitalisation and ICU but we are expecting these to increase in the coming weeks and couple of months," Dr Gibney told ABC TV on Friday.

"It has to be done. We can't live in lockdown indefinitely."

Premier Domnic Perrottet on Thursday announced a revised strategy to reopen NSW after the state reached its 70 per cent double-dose vaccination milestone.

Ten adult visitors will be allowed in homes, 30 people can gather outdoors and 100 guests can attend weddings and funerals.

Indoor swimming pools will be able to open and all school students will be back in the classroom by 25 October. All teachers will have to be fully vaccinated by the same date.

From Monday, people will be able to travel between Sydney, Shellharbour, Wollongong, the Blue Mountains and the Central Coast but not into the regions.

The United Workers Union, which represents many frontline and public-facing workers, is concerned members checking vaccination status could be put in unsafe situations.

The union wants the government to issue clear guidelines to protect public facing workers, and penalties for non-compliance, as well as to implement a simple way to verify vaccination status.

The integrated Service NSW vaccine certificate or passport app is still not ready to be rolled out state-wide. It is currently being trialled with 500 people in regional NSW.

Restrictions will ease further when 80 per cent of the adult population is fully jabbed, expected around 25 October, when 3,000 people will be allowed at ticketed outdoor events and nightclubs can reopen, though dancing would not be permitted.

Masks will not be required in office buildings in an attempt to encourage workers back to Sydney's CBD.

These eased restrictions will apply only for the fully vaccinated until 1 December, when they are set to be restored for the unvaccinated.

Published 8 October 2021 at 11:13am, updated 8 October 2021 at 12:17pm
Source: AAP - SBS