State has its deadliest week yet as COVID-19 cases start to fall

“The daily case numbers are clearly on the downward slope which is reassuring, probably not falling as quickly as everyone would like, but it is encouraging and NSW has been very successful in targeting their vaccinations to high-risk areas,” said Professor Cheng.

About 87 per cent of people aged 16 and older in NSW have had one dose vaccine and 64 per cent are fully vaccinated.

“The last thing that will be important now is that no one is left behind for vaccination, for example, for people from non-English-speaking backgrounds and First Nations people,” he said.

Associate Professor James Wood, an applied mathematician in UNSW’s School of Public Health and Community Medicine said, while he was unsure if deaths in NSW had reached a peak, there is the possibility the numbers could rise or change when “eventually we open up and start to allow larger case numbers.”

He said that, while a third of daily deaths reported on Friday were fully vaccinated, the risk of someone aged over 80 dying of coronavirus is much higher than younger groups even if they have received two doses of a vaccine.

“The issue is when you get clusters of cases in hospitals or an aged care, that’s when the consequences are going to be bad in terms of people of dying,” Professor Wood said.

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“There are subgroups of the population who don’t make good responses to vaccines, so some people on cancer therapy and immunosuppressive drugs may not be much more protected than if they’ve been unvaccinated.”

At least 27 people have died in NSW’s outbreak as a result of acquiring their infection in a hospital and 11 after contracting the virus in an aged care facility.

While evidence on the use of booster shots is still under review, Professor Wood said there was “a potential issue that some of our initial priority cohorts were vaccinated six months ago. There have been observations of some decline in immunity in the UK.”

Two deaths reported on Friday acquired their infection in an aged care facility and two people who died acquired their infections in a hospital setting – a man in his 80s from south-eastern Sydney at the Mater Hospital and a woman in her 80s at Westmead Hospital.

One person died at home – a woman in her 50s from south-western Sydney who tested positive to COVID-19 following her death.

South-west and western Sydney continued to record the highest daily case numbers, followed by Illawarra Shoalhaven, South East Sydney and the Hunter New England region.

NSW Health announced some cancelled elective surgeries would restart thanks to “declining community transmission of COVID-19 and increasing vaccination rates”.

From October 5, non-urgent day surgery at 19 private hospitals will recommence. Non-urgent elective surgery at the state’s public hospitals remains paused.

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