NSW to reach more than 3000 daily Covid cases next month, expert predicts

·4-min read

An expert has predicted Sydney's daily Covid cases could reach more than 3000 by next month.

The most recent outbreak of Covid-19 in NSW has proven to be the worst Australia has dealt with since the start of the pandemic.

In the last three days, daily cases have been above 1000, with Monday's case load of 1290 being the highest any region in Australia has ever recorded.

There are many predictions among experts as to when the numbers will start to go down, but modelling done by Melbourne University’s Chris Billington paints a pretty bleak picture.

daily Covid cases in NSW could peak at over 3000 in the coming weeks. Source: Chris Billington
Daily Covid cases in NSW could peak at over 3000 in the coming weeks. Source: Chris Billington

He told news.com.au he expects the daily cases in NSW will peak between 2200 and 4500.

"The median there is about 3100,” he said.

Vaccine rollout to assist in steep decline of cases

Dr Billington takes into account how the vaccine rollout will impact the curve of transmission.

According to his data, cases will peak at more than 3000 daily cases at some point in late September, but then come down to around 1000 cases per day by late October.

By late December, the number of cases will finally dwindle towards zero.

Dr Billington's calculations are based on the effective reproduction number of the virus, Reff, which is an epidemic parameter that determines if an epidemic is growing, shrinking or holding steady, according to National Institutes of Health.

Reff estimates can also be used to show if any interventions – such as vaccines and lockdowns – are working.

"This projection shows what might be possible if all other factors affecting Reff—such as restrictions—are held constant," Dr Billington noted. 

"If New South Wales eases restrictions, however, then Reff will likely increase and the effect of vaccines in reducing spread will be delayed compared to this projection."

Though the peak of 3100 may seem staggeringly high, another graph using the same effective reproduction number shows that without the increase in vaccines, case numbers could explode to 7000 cases daily by September 25 if the current trajectory remains unchanged.

Premier predicts hospitals to be hardest hit in October

On Monday NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian admitted October is likely to be the worst month for the NSW health system due to the accumulation of Covid-19 infections from the preceding weeks.

The premier said the rate of hospitalisations per Covid-19 infection would continue to fall as more NSW residents are vaccinated, but the overall number of hospitalisations was likely to rise as infections increase.

"Everyday we get closer to hitting those vaccination targets, meaning the pressure on our hospital system, on our ICU will decline over time, and that is what we need to manage," Ms Berejiklian said.

"We are going to see more cases but if the majority of the population is vaccinated, the majority of those cases will not need to be in hospital.

While NSW has a surge capacity of about 2000 intensive care beds and an equivalent number of ventilators, unions have expressed concern the quality of patient care in such a scenario would be greatly diluted.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian   during a COVID-19 update in Sydney, Monday, August 30, 2021.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian expects October to be the toughest month for NSW. Source: AAP

Restrictions are set to ease in some parts of the state, except for LGAs of concern, which are subject to tighter lockdown restrictions.

Those outside LGAs of concern with both vaccine doses will be able to meet in groups of five within 5km from their homes come mid-September.

Despite the high number of cases NSW recorded on Monday, University of Melbourne epidemiologist Tony Blakely was positive infections should soon begin to go down.

"I am hopeful that it is about to turn. Certainly, I think that that is probably what's going to happen," he told ABC News Breakfast.

with AAP

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