Sharp drop in NSW Covid cases as officials 'hope' outbreak has peaked

·3-min read

NSW has recorded a sharp drop in Covid cases and another 20 deaths as Australia's top health officials "hope" the latest outbreak has reached its peak in several states and territories.

In the 24-hour reporting period, the state had 34,660 new infections, with 13,682 from rapid antigen tests (RAT) and 20,978 from polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests in numbers released on Sunday.

Hospitalisations saw a slight jump to 2650 but cases in the ICU dropped off to 191.

People queue up to sign in at the Opera Bar in Sydney, Australia.
People use the QR sign in to get into Opera Bar. Source: Getty Images

Of the 13,682 positive RAT results, 11,204 of these positive tests were from the previous seven days.

More than 95 per cent of people aged 16 and over had had one dose of the vaccine, while almost 94 per cent have had two.

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said on Sunday of the 20 people who died "two were in aged care in their 50s, six people were aged in the 70s, seven people were aged in their 80s, four people were in the 90s and one person was 100 plus".

On Saturday, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt and Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said there were "signs of hope" the outbreaks in the ACT, NSW and Victoria have peaked.

"All predictions, and now the actual forecasting based on actual numbers of cases, particularly in NSW but also in Victoria and ACT, leads me to believe that we are close to the peak of this wave in terms of cases," the latter said, noting infections are likely to be going under-reported.

However, Professor Kelly said the situation in Western Australia "is another story".

"When they do start to get cases it will be later on. But for most of the rest of Australia, we are still on that upward curve, we may be plateauing and then there is a downswing of cases after that," he said.

Prof Kelly noted there will be a rise in hospitalisations and deaths in the coming weeks but noted the overall rate of severe disease is "extremely low".

Victoria sees jump in Covid cases, hospitalisations

Further south in Victoria, 28,128 new cases and 13 deaths were reported on Sunday. It's a jump from Saturday's 25,526 infections.

Of the new cases, 10,337 were from RATs and 17,791 came from PCRs.

Hospitalisations also saw a slight increase to 1114 with 35 people ventilated.

Mr Hunt on Saturday announced the nation has reached a 95 per cent first-dose vaccination rate against the virus for those aged 16 and older.

He said the milestone surpassed "almost all possible predictions that were made at the outset of the pandemic".

"That is often referred to as a full vaccination level but we want to go further, we want to continue to encourage Australians to come forward," Mr Hunt told reporters.

Mr Hunt also flagged a decision on the Novavax vaccine, which is not yet available in Australia, is expected by the Therapeutic Goods Administration "in the coming 10 days".

About 51 million doses of the protein-based vaccine have been ordered by the federal government.

An announcement on oral treatments for Covid is also imminent, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said, while the federal advisory panel on vaccines has begun deliberating on the possibility of a second booster shot.

with AAP

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