Berejiklian details lockdown exit as NSW records 1405 new COVID cases, five deaths

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NSW has reported 1405 new local coronavirus cases on Thursday, as Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a plan for gyms, hospitality venues and hairdressers to reopen to the fully vaccinated by the end of October.

The Premier said these new rules would come into force on the Monday after the state hit 70 per cent full vaccination.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian addresses the COVID briefing on Thursday morning.Credit:James Brickwood

However, she stressed that – although the plan would allow “any person” who was fully vaccinated to participate in those freedoms – health authorities would be able to restrict movement if there was a surge of cases in a certain area.

“Whilst today, the NSW government is outlining our plan, our roadmap, for the way forward in NSW, we’re definitely not out of the woods,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“We know that case numbers are likely to peak in the next week or so and we also know that our hospital system will be under the greatest stress in October.

However, we also know that living with COVID means you have a cautious and staged reopening.”

The Premier expressed concern about a “slight decline” in vaccination rates in the state, after 107,000 shots were administered on Wednesday.

“Whilst we have more than 42.5 per cent of our population fully vaccinated, we have some time to get to that magic 70 per cent double vaccination, when we can look forward to life being much freer than what it is today.”

There were five new deaths reported since yesterday’s update: a man in his 80s who died at Nepean Hospital, a woman in her 70s who died at Ryde Hospital, a woman in her 70s who died at Concord Hospital, a man in his 80s who died at Westmead Hospital and a woman in her 40s who died at Liverpool Hospital.

There are currently 1,175 COVID-19 cases in NSW’s hospitals, with 202 people in intensive care. Eighty require ventilation.

More than 7000 recently retired doctors and nurses in NSW will now be able to fill in for healthcare workers furloughed due to COVID-19 after the national medical board altered the conditions on its pandemic response sub-register this week.

Data released by the NSW government’s Agency for Clinical Innovation on Wednesday evening showed 1123 healthcare workers were in isolation following a COVID-19 exposure.

In a statement, NSW Health said it supported the decision to expand the register. The state already allowed previously registered health professionals, including nurses, who had retired or whose registration lapsed between three and 10 years ago to work in vaccination hubs.

Bed space at hospitals is also expanding in response to rising cases. A recently completed building at Concord Hospital with mostly single-bed rooms will open exclusively to COVID-19 patients later this month.

The eight-storey building, initially set to house its cancer centre, aged health centre and dedicated veterans’ health service, will first be used as a dedicated COVID-19 treatment centre.

“Two-thirds of inpatient beds in the new building at Concord Hospital are in single rooms, providing more space to isolate and care for patients with COVID-19,” Sydney Local Health District chief executive Teresa Anderson said.

In Sydney’s south-west and west, there are expected to be six COVID-19 wards at Campbelltown, Liverpool and Westmead hospitals, respectively, by the end of the week.

There were 324 new cases reported in Victoria on Thursday, the highest number since August 2020. One new cases was reported in Queensland: a 10-year-old boy linked to the Beenleigh truck driver cluster.

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