NSW records 1,485 cases and three Covid deaths as Victoria premier laments ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’

An infant and a young child are among 72 people in New South Wales on ventilators in intensive care units, as the premier warns case numbers in Australia’s most populous state still have a fortnight to rise.

Gladys Berejikilian reiterated that in October the number of people hospitalised and requiring intensive care will peak before receding as vaccination rates slow the rate of critical illness.

“This is the most critical time in dealing with the disease for us,” she told reporters on Sunday.

“All the modelling indicates to us that the peak is likely to be here in the next week or two and the peak in hospitalisation and intensive care is likely to be with us in October.”

NSW recorded 1,485 new cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday, and three deaths.

There were 1,030 Covid patients in NSW hospitals: 175 of those were in intensive care and 72 required ventilators to breathe.

The NSW deputy chief health officer, Dr Jeremy McAnulty, confirmed three children were in intensive care in Sydney, two of whom were on ventilators, including a baby.

“This is in the context of over 2,000 … children being cared for by the children’s hospital network. So unfortunately, but rarely, people including children do require intensive care,” he said.

“Overall, children do very well with Covid-19, but there is always a spectrum of disease of any age group.”

Authorities continued to battle to contain the spread of the virulent Delta strain throughout the state on Sunday. Of the new cases, 21 were in western NSW, four in the far west, 12 in the Hunter-New England region, 11 in the Illawarra Shoalhaven area and seven on the Central Coast.

NSW Health’s ongoing sewage surveillance program recently detected fragments of the virus at sewage treatment plants across the state. Fragments were found in Byron Bay overnight and recently at Tamworth and Glen Innes in Hunter-New England, Cooma in southern NSW and west Kempsey on the mid-north coast.

Meanwhile, an isolation hub, including 30 caravans, arrived in one of NSW’s hardest hit regional towns. The temporary accommodation will be made available for isolating patients at Wilcannia’s Victory Park Caravan Park, in the state’s far west.

Motor homes have arrived in Wilcannia supplied by NSW Health. Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian

More than 13% of Wilcannia’s predominantly Indigenous population have caught the virus. The caravans should be ready early this week, NSW Health said on Sunday.

“The site includes 30 motorhomes that will provide temporary accommodation options for people, helping to protect their loved ones and reduce the risk of transmission of the virus,” a statement read.

An emergency management centre has been established at the town’s showground, housing personnel and staging response activities.

“It will include personnel from NSW Health, NSW Police, Australian Defence Force, Aboriginal Affairs, Rural Fire Service, SES, NSW Ambulance … and a number of volunteer organisations.”

More than 600 food hampers have been delivered to Wilcannia residents and the distribution program continues.

Covid patients isolating in the self-contained caravan accommodation will be provided with all meals and have 24-hour assistance on hand.

Berejiklian said while case numbers will continue to rise, the rate of severe illness will fall as more and more people across the state are able to access vaccines, and the government will be able to consider easing restrictions.

“When we get through the next few weeks, all of us will feel more assured about how we will cope in October. What I have my eye on is the 70% double dose vaccination [rate], which will ensure all those freedoms that those of us who are vaccinated will enjoy.”

The premier said she was confident the state’s health system could cope with the expected surge in hospitalisations.

She also said 40% of NSW’s population was now fully vaccinated.

“That is an incredible milestone to have reached given where we were a few months ago,” the premier said.

Cars enter a drive-through Covid testing site in Brunswick in Melbourne’s north.
Cars enter a drive-through Covid testing site in Brunswick in Melbourne’s north. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Meanwhile Victoria recorded 183 new cases on Sunday, 91% of which were in people under 50.

The Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said the Covid outbreak across that state was a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”.

The highly transmissible Delta strain is hitting younger cohorts who have not had the same opportunity to get vaccinated as older groups.

“The age breakdown confirms that this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Andrews said.

Victoria had 89 cases in hospital and 24 in intensive care, with 13 people on ventilators.

“Only one person who is in hospital has been fully vaccinated, again, making the point that if you are double-dose protected … then you are almost certain to avoid very serious illness,” Andrews said.

Victoria has 1,714 active cases: 216 cases are aged 0-9; 232 are aged 10-19; 348 are aged in their 20s; and 245 are aged in their 30s.

A guard at a Melbourne detention centre has tested positive for Covid, but authorities said he hasn’t infected any asylum seekers being held there.

Victoria’s Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said the security guard worked on the outside facing parts of the Melbourne Immigration Transit Centre (Mita) and did not have contact with staff inside the facility.

He said none of the asylum seekers being detained there have tested positive for the virus.

The ABF said a contractor at Mita tested positive, but he last worked there more than 12 days ago and did not come into contact with any detainees.

“The ABF and the contracted service provider have worked with Public Health to minimise transmission risk in accordance with infection control and public health procedures,” a spokesperson said.

The ACT recorded 15 new local cases on Sunday. Of those, 13 were linked to existing cases, while six were in isolation for their entire infectious period and seven for part of it.

The ACT chief minister Andrew Barr indicated that restrictions weren’t set to ease this week. More than 85% of the ACT’s Covid-19 cases were under the age of 45.

A majority of those who have recently tested positive have waited at least two days after experiencing symptoms to get a test.

Barr said more than 70% of the eligible ACT population had received at least one vaccine dose.

Queensland recorded one new locally acquired Covid case, the mother of a four-year-old girl who tested positive on Friday. The mother was in isolation.

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