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Small mercies: NSW hits welcome milestone with 70 per cent having first jab

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A day after reporting the 100th death linked to the state’s spiralling COVID-19 outbreak, NSW is expected to reach a happier milestone – 70 per cent first dose COVID-19 vaccination coverage.

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As of Tuesday at 8pm, more than 6.9 million vaccine doses had been administered in NSW, with 69.3 per cent of the population aged 16 and over receiving at least one dose.

Almost 38 per cent are fully vaccinated.

The number of people in NSW who’ve received at least one jab has grown on average by more than one per cent a day over the past week, implying the dose that tips the state over 70 per cent coverage was likely administered on Wednesday.

If so, this will ensure NSW reaches 70 per cent full vaccination coverage within a number of weeks, triggering the state’s gradual release from lockdown.

At 70 per cent double-dose coverage vaccinated people in NSW can expect to go out for a meal and attend public events, the government suggested on Wednesday.

Home visits and indoor events are likely to be off the table as they are higher risk.

At 80 per cent coverage – expected in November – Australians overseas will be able to return to NSW without going into hotel quarantine, Premier Gladys Berejiklian expects, and NSW residents will be allowed to travel internationally.

While October will likely trigger freedoms for the vaccinated, it will also be a time when hospitals are under the most pressure.

Berejiklian on Wednesday again refused to expand on the government’s modelling, including what a worst-case scenario looks like for hospitals.

Case numbers are expected to rise further over the next few weeks before they start to fall.

Infections are currently climbing by more than a thousand each day, and close to 1000 people are in hospital with the virus.

Some 150 are in intensive care – of which 127 are not vaccinated – and 66 are on ventilators.

Four more deaths were reported on Wednesday, along with 1116 new cases, including 32 in the state’s west and far west.

Meanwhile, NSW police have arrested another man over an illegal anti-lockdown protest on the north coast on Tuesday.

More than 900 officers were deployed to break up almost 100 small anti-lockdown protests across NSW, arresting more than 150 people and issuing 570 fines.

The 52-year-old Murwillumbah man was arrested on Wednesday, taken to Tweed Heads Police Station and charged with participating in an unlawful protest.

He was given conditional bail to appear at Murwillumbah Local Court on September 22.

NSW Police also issued $1000 fines on Wednesday to nine men aged 18 to 24 who attended a party at Malabar Head on July 23 in breach of public health orders.

The party was linked to cases of COVID-19 and investigations were continuing into parties at Maroubra in August involving dozens of people who have since returned positive COVID-19 test results.

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