Seven weeks into lockdown, NSW Health has failed to arrest the rise of daily Covid-19 cases with one data scientist suggesting the number of cases could be about to "explode".
Data journalist Juliette O'Brien, the creator of covid19data.com.au, said the large number of cases recorded each day without a known chain of transmission (now more than 2150) has left the state in a "precarious position".
Speaking to ABC radio on Thursday, she said: "if we put Victoria's second wave on the same timeline with NSW's second wave, then what we can see is that cases exploded for Victoria. We're around that point in time right now."
Super-spreader events are far less likely in lockdown and the vaccination rate is edging higher but the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant continues to rumble along, showing no signs up slowing.
"The reproduction rate really hasn't changed much in the last month and it just won't dip below one. It keeps hovering above one – about 1.1 or 1.2," she said.
That means, on average, every infected person passes the virus on to 1.1 to 1.2 people. In other words, slow exponential growth.
Without something changing, daily new cases will be in the mid 500s in September, she said.
So many doing very hard years in Australia right now, preventing a much sharper incline than seen here. But very clear our 3rd wave is well underway. With Delta, a move away from #zerocovid in NSW and 4-6+ months from roadmap vax targets, this is a national crisis - #covid19aus pic.twitter.com/j6JBjHjPhW
— Prof Brendan Crabb (@CrabbBrendan) August 12, 2021
Virus fears for NSW Aboriginal communities
Health officials are "very concerned" about the potential spread of COVID-19 among vulnerable communities in NSW, with the majority of new cases in Dubbo and Walgett diagnosed in Aboriginal people.
Five cases have been recorded in Dubbo in the past three days, along with another case in western NSW. They include an Aboriginal man from Walgett.
The cases led the state government to call a one-week snap lockdown for the Walgett, Dubbo, Bogan, Bourke, Brewarrina, Coonamble, Gilgandra, Narromine and Warren areas on Wednesday.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt on Thursday confirmed an additional 7680 Pfizer vaccine doses will be provided for the affected areas, including Walgett.
Mr Hunt said extra AstraZeneca vaccines would also be made available in what is a "whole-of government" effort to support and protect those communities.
Western Local Health District Chief Executive Scott McLachlan confirmed that the "vast majority" of those cases were in Aboriginal people, including children.
Fuelling concern is a combination of significant Indigenous populations, low vaccination rates and relatively poor health services.
NSW recorded 345 new local cases across the state in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday, with at least 91 in the community while infectious.
Some 49.02 per cent of NSW residents aged 16 and over have had one dose of the vaccine, and 25.06 per cent are fully vaccinated.
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