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NSW cases may peak at 3000 per day, hospital pressure to last a year

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Coronavirus case numbers in NSW could hit 3000 a day before peaking and high hospitalisation numbers could last a year, a leading epidemiologist has warned.

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But Professor Tony Blakely, a public health specialist at the University of Melbourne, also says while cases are rising at about five per cent a day that should plateau as vaccine coverage increases.

“They’re heading to, you know, a couple of thousand, maybe 3000 cases before the vaccine dose catches up with them,” he told ABC TV on Monday.

“Possibly more, depending on how they go.”

Prof Blakely said the state’s health services will be under pressure.

“We’re all going to have to deal with it because next year, when we open the borders, we will have high hospitalisation numbers for at least a year,” he added.

As businesses open up in October or November and children return to school, COVID-19 transmissions will increase so “we have quite a balancing act here and quite a discussion to have about trade-offs”, he said.

“How much do we value getting kids back to school versus the stress on the health services?”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is expected to soon release modelling on the looming peaks in infection case numbers and patient hospitalisations, after the state’s double vaccination rate reached 40 per cent over the weekend.

“All the modelling indicates to us that the peak (in cases) is likely to be here in the next week or two,” she said on Sunday.

“The peak in hospitalisation and intensive care is likely to be with us in October.”

NSW reported 1485 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and three deaths on Sunday as authorities battle to contain the spread of the virulent Delta strain.

Meanwhile, thousands of essential workers in Sydney’s 12 local government area COVID-19 hotspots have been given a two-week reprieve on an order to get their first COVID-19 jab, if they want to work outside those areas.

The government has given workers two more weeks to get a vaccine but they have to book an appointment by Wednesday.

From Monday, tens of thousands of school, early childhood, TAFE NSW, Vocational Education and Training and university staff can get vaccinated with AstraZeneca at the Qudos vaccination hub in Homebush.

“As we prepare for a staged return to school from 25 October, and holding HSC exams from 9 November, vaccinating all staff is essential to increase safety and minimise disruption,” Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said.

From November 8, all NSW school and preschool staff must have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The death toll for the current NSW outbreak, which began on June 16, now stands at 126.

There are 1030 COVID-19 patients in NSW in hospital, with 175 in intensive care and 72 on ventilators.

Meanwhile, 40 per cent of people in NSW are now fully vaccinated, which the government says is an “incredible milestone”.

At least 73 per cent of NSW residents aged 16 and over have had at least one vaccine dose, with more than 7.3 million jabs administered in the state.

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