Covid NSW: Premier’s freedom warning on state’s deadliest day

  • 15 more deaths, 863 cases

  • Aged care homes to allow visitors

  • How close contact definition will change

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is urging caution to residents after a record number of Covid-related deaths were reported on Wednesday.

The warning comes as NSW announced 863 new cases of Covid-19 and 15 more deaths, surpassing the previous record of 13 Covid deaths for one day.

"Between 11 October and when we hit 80 per cent double dose, we need to exercise that extra degree of caution to make sure we don't see a surge in cases or hospitalisation beyond what we can manage," Ms Berejiklian told reporters.

People sitting on the sand and walking at Bronte Beach, NSW on a sunny day.
NSW has reported 15 more Covid deaths, the most for a single day during the pandemic. Source: AAP Image

"Think about what you are going to do in that week and think about the loved ones that you see and exercise that degree of caution."

Hospitalisation rate better than expected

Admissions to ICU are tracking better than modelling initially suggested.

"We are tracking under what we envisaged we would but there is no time for complacency," the Premier said.

Of the 15 deaths, two people died at home, one woman was in her 70s who was fully vaccinated and two men in their 40s died who had underlying health conditions.

One person from the group had received two doses, five had one dose and nine were not vaccinated.

86.2 per cent of the NSW population have received their first Covid-19 dose and 61.7 per cent are fully vaccinated.

"We are inching closer to that 70 per cent double dose figure," Ms Berejiklian said. "And 12 to 15-year-olds, 44.5 per cent of them have already had a first dose, which is outstanding given the vaccine was only made available a few weeks ago."

Aged care facilities open

Ms Berejiklian also announced that from October 11, aged care facilities in NSW will be able to welcome two fully vaccinated visitors per day.

Regional areas urged to exercise caution

Health Minister Brad Hazzard continued to urge people in regional areas to continue to get vaccinated after a case was reported in the Byron Bay region, which exited lockdown from midnight Tuesday.

"Vaccination is the way out of this current issue in New South Wales and being vaccinated is the single most important step you can take to protecting yourself your family and your community," Mr Hazzard said, asking people to only seek medical advice from health professionals.

"Please, please get advice from a doctor, don't get advice from social media. There are an awful lot of very strange people on social media doing very strange messaging and it is not designed to keep you healthy or alive."

Definition of close contact to change

Ms Berejiklian said that at 70 and 80 per cent, the definition of close contact will change.

Chief Health Officer of New South Wales Kerry Chant said they will factor in vaccination status when determining what defines a close contact once vaccination milestones are hit.

"I can talk in general terms about some of the concepts we are grappling with. We are going to be factoring vaccination status into whether you even fall into the category of a close contact and we have been factoring in other protective measures.

"If people are wearing masks indoors, we can assume that provides an additional layer of protection and if your case is positive and they have been wearing a mask, that provides protection. We will tend to be providing businesses with a matrix which takes into account various areas."

Dr Chant says they may take a more "cautious" approach with health care, disability and aged care settings.

"Because we are concerned about the complexity and the consequences in those settings," she explained.

"In other settings, it may be that we assume when everyone is vaccinated, and you have knowingly taken that risk, we don't do the same level of contact tracing that has been occurring in the earlier phases in the outbreak."

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