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Chant wants NSW jab target of 95 per cent or more

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More than 92 per cent of adults in NSW have had one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine but Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant is hoping that number will go even higher.

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Some 92.1 per cent of eligible people 16 and older have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while 80.8 per cent of adults are fully vaccinated.

“Ninety-two per cent is a great achievement, but let’s get higher,” Dr Chant said on Tuesday, adding this was needed to protect the vulnerable.

“I want to get 95 per cent or even above.”

In the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday NSW recorded 273 locally acquired virus cases – down from 301 the previous day – and four more deaths.

The number of people hospitalised with COVID-19 has dropped with 589 in hospital, including 128 in intensive care and 69 on ventilators.

Chant said despite the decline, the virus continues to spread in the regions and particularly in the Hunter New England area, which recorded 35 new cases.

However, she’s pleased high testing rates were being maintained, with 90,597 tests in 24 hours.

The fall in the number of people in hospital and in intensive care was also a relief for staff who have been working in a system under stress for months.

“But it will not mean they have much of a breather – we also have business as usual,” Chant said.

Less than two weeks after the first easing of restrictions, she warned an expected rise in case numbers was yet to come.

“There’s a lot of uncertainties about what case numbers will do,” she said.

“Next week I will be really interested in what our numbers are.”

Authorities believe case numbers will rise as more people interact, but this also depend on how well the community adheres to the remaining restrictions.

“It is the responsibility of all of us to do all that we can, get vaccinated, continue to follow the public health advice,” Chant said.

“Let’s try to make sure that our ICUs have as few as possible people with COVID in them, as we open up over this Christmas-New Year period.”

NSW began the second stage of its roadmap out of lockdown on Monday after passing the 80 per cent fully  vaccinated milestone.

Children in kindergarten, year one and 12 are back at school and other years returning next week.

Restrictions have been eased in hospitality venues and up to 20 visitors are allowed in homes and outdoor gatherings of up to 50 are allowed – but only if you are fully vaccinated.

Vaccinated office workers are no longer required to wear masks but masks are still required in other indoor areas, such as public transport or shops.

Fully vaccinated people returning to the office who maintain COVID-19 safe behaviour were “very unlikely” to become a close contact if a colleague became infected, Chant said.

“However, if you have all taken off your masks in the tearoom and spent an hour at a party, you will then get tipped over into a close contact,” she said.

There have been 479 COVID-19 related deaths in NSW since the latest outbreak began on June 16, and 535 in total since the start of the global pandemic.

Meanwhile in Victoria, operators of entertainment venues have been left frustrated after the state’s published rules about opening up contained an error.

Melbourne entertainment venues won’t be able to open to fully vaccinated patrons indoors when lockdown ends, because a COVID-19 rule change contained a “typo”.

When roadmap changes were unveiled on Sunday, a document shared by Premier Daniel Andrews said pubs, clubs and entertainment venues would open to up to 20 double-dosed people from 11.59pm on Thursday.

But an updated version of document, published on the official Coronavirus Victoria website, notes only pubs and clubs are permitted to have patrons indoors, while entertainment venues can host up to 50 outdoors.

Andrews confirmed the “typo” was rectified within hours.

“That was corrected and again I apologise if there’s any sense that a sector has been included that shouldn’t have been, but it does not include entertainment venues,” he said on Tuesday.

Kyran Wheatley, the brainchild of Comedy Republic, and his fellow comedians Rhys Nicholson and Alex Dyson, said the rug had been pulled out from under them.

The Melbourne CBD venue’s COVID-19 marshal discovered the document had been “quietly changed” after it had already scheduled eight shows.

All have since sold out and the owners are worried they will have to refund $4000 in tickets.

“It’s the first proper income we’ve had in months,” Mr Wheatley told AAP.

“I’ve got a staff member flying back from Perth where he’s been during this lockdown because we’re opening up again (and) another staff member who brought forward their second dose of AstraZeneca from 12 weeks to eight weeks.

“Talk about kicking us when we’re down.

“They cracked open the door to do just a whisper of a show and then slam the door shut quietly the next day.”

It comes after Victoria recorded 1749 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths, taking the toll from the current outbreak to 163.

-AAP

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