States face different virus realities

·3-min read

Australia's states and territories are following separate COVID-19 paths as diverging case numbers, outbreaks and lockdown concerns have them facing different realities.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has declared the way forward and of out of fragmented communities, border closures and economic restrictions is universal vaccination.

It wasn't just about those states which are in lockdown, Mr Morrison told the WA Liberal conference in Perth on Saturday.

"The urgency must be just as great in Western Australia as it has been in the eastern states," he warned.

"Avoid what has happened there in the eastern states, not by shutting away, but by being able to open up safely, and to be able to connect with the rest of the country, and vaccines are the ticket."

NSW will start easing restrictions on Monday despite 11 deaths and 508 new cases reported in the country's most populous state on Saturday.

More than 70 per cent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated and more than 90 per cent will have had their first dose by the end of the weekend.

Premier Dominic Perrottet flagged an increase in positive cases would follow the state's reopening on Monday and urged people to proceed safely.

"What has been key to keeping people safe is our high vaccination rate. We have the highest vaccination rate in the country and importantly we're coming close on that first-dose mark to 90 per cent," he said.

Victoria recorded another record daily number on Saturday, with 1965 new locally acquired cases and another five deaths.

Authorities there are also trying to track down contacts of a flight crew member who tested positive after travelling on six flights between Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide.

As the outbreak nears its peak, Victoria will also release 16,000 secondary close contacts from quarantine.

"This just recognises the changing risk and the changing environment that we're in," Health Department deputy secretary Kate Matson said.

"We are no longer chasing COVID-zero in Victoria and we have 17,000 active cases in Victoria."

The state's vaccination numbers are also climbing, with 85.19 per cent having had a first does and 57.67 per cent fully vaccinated.

The ACT recorded 25 new local cases on Saturday as the immunisation rate continues to climb.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the national capital was "on the path to becoming one of the most vaccinated cities in the world", with 97 per cent of Canberrans having received a first dose and 69 per cent a second jab.

Even so, as the ACT enters its final week in lockdown, there is growing uncertainty for residents near the NSW border as Monday approaches.

The reality is different again in other states where COVID-19 is almost non-existent.

SA's vaccination coverage is lagging along with WA, Queensland and the Northern Territory, with less than 75 per cent of people in those jurisdictions having had a first dose.

Of them, only NT has fully vaccinated more than 55 per cent of eligible residents.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath, like her SA, WA and NT counterparts, is urging people to get the jab before Delta arrives.

"Those people who have been sitting back and going, 'We don't have an outbreak here, I can afford to wait', time is up," she said on Saturday.

"It's going to be five to six weeks before people are fully protected if they get vaccinated today. We don't know what five or six weeks are going to look like in November."

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