New South Wales records 753 new COVID-19 cases, hits vaccination milestone

New South Wales has recorded 753 new COVID-19 cases and no deaths to 8pm last night, as the state hit the six million vaccination milestone.

More than 138,000 tests were conducted, which Premier Gladys Berejiklian described as a pleasing result.

Ms Berejiklian said she was “deeply grateful” to NSW residents for their response to the vaccination rollout.

NSW has recorded 753 new cases after the first night of the new curfew in Sydney. (Getty)

She is set to make an announcement on Thursday or Friday as to what restrictions will ease for fully vaccinated people from September. A schools announcement is also expected.

“Thank you to everybody who has stepped up and got the jab. That equates to 60 per cent of our population across the state with at least one dose and around 30 per cent of the population double dosed,” she said.

“It is an amazing milestone.”

Ms Berejiklian said that western NSW remains of particular concern for health authorities.

“The suburbs of concern remain Auburn, Merrylands, Yagoona, Guildford, Bankstown, Punchbowl, Blacktown and the surrounding areas,” she said.

“We ask people in those communities to be extra careful.

“Assume every time you step out the door that you have the virus or that anyone you come into contact with has the virus.

“In terms of the regions, many areas are settling down and stabilising, but western New South Wales remains our concern.”

Of the day’s new cases, 23 were recorded in Dubbo and 14 in Wilcannia.

Two apiece were recorded in Gilgandra, Parks, and Wellington.

Narromine, the Hunter New England Local Helath District, and Newcastle each recorded a single case.

Three infections were found in both the Illawarra-Shoalhaven area, and on the Central Coast.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant has expressed her gratitude to the people of NSW, saying she is pleased to see vaccine rates remain high; however, she has warned that keeping those numbers high will be the state’s biggest challenge.

“It is so pleasing every day to see those vaccine numbers go up, and what is more pleasing is to see those second doses,” Dr Chant said.

Blacktown has been flagged as one of the best-performing suburbs in terms of vaccination rates.

“We’ve seen Blacktown go from one of the lowest rates of vaccination to the highest in the state,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Jab rates remain high across all 12 LGAs of concern overall, Ms Berejiklian added.

It comes after Sydney’s coronavirus hotspot suburbs experienced their first full night under a new curfew aimed at curbing the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant.

Heavy rainfall falling across the west and south-west helped to keep the streets deserted and people at home, as the new rule took effect from 9pm until 5am.

In those Local Government Areas of concern in the last four weeks, Canterbury-Bankstown has recorded 2,060 cases, Cumberland 1,813, Blacktown 1,297 and Fairfield 808.

Empty streets are seen in the Parramatta CBD as a 9pm-5am curfew begins on August 23, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Getty)

Asked on whether residents within the 12 LGAs of concern can expect any freedoms in September, Ms Berejiklian said health authorities are “having those conversations now”.

“Our first and foremost priority is protecting human life and living as freely as possible while we do that, we also have to accept that there has been no state or nation on the planet that has escaped the Delta strain, having cases,” she said.

“We have to be real about that. It is confronting, that is what we are in. It is a plague, a contagious strain of a contagious disease which is sweeping the world.”

Ms Berejiklian and health officials are looking towards having 70 per cent of adults fully vaccinated by the end of October, while 80 per cent of adults could be fully immunised by mid-November.

A COVD-19 testing clinic in Penrith at night, as residents in hotspot areas come forward. (Wolter Peeters/SMH)

But she conceded “the challenge for us is how can we live through September and October safely before we hit that 70 per cent vaccination rate”.

And in a sign of hope for school students, the government is said to be looking at staggered return to the classrooms once vaccination rates in NSW reach 70 per cent.

Primary school students may not go back to face-to-face learning this year.
NSW is said to be looking at a staggered return to classroom learning in October. (Getty)
Students in kindergarten to year two as well as year 11 will be the first to return to school in term four in October, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The second stage of the return could also involve year six students.

Officials – including those from the education sector – will meet today to discuss the plan before it goes before crisis cabinet on Wednesday.

The Premier said more information about the return of students would be revealed later this week.

Sydney streets emptied as new regulations come into force

“We have effective vaccines that work, and that will be a factor that really influences the safety of school settings,” Dr Kerry Chant said.

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