Fifty-one of the 372 new local cases reported were in the Murrumbidgee Local Health District, which had previously been recording daily figures between 10 and 18 cases over the past week.
Of those 51 cases, 48 were recorded in Albury local government area, six of whom were residents at the Mercy Place aged care facility. The other three cases lived in the Edward River and Greater Hume areas.
“A significant amount of current cases are among those aged 12 to 24,” the district said in a statement. “It is critical those aged 12 and above come forward for vaccination.”
Professor Bennett said it would be expected the virus would start to find places which have lower vaccination rates, due to solid overall coverage, necessitating targeted public health responses.
The approach to vaccinating regional areas needed to be similar to that taken in western Sydney in July, Professor Martiniuk said.
“[US regulators] will make a ruling on vaccination for ages five to 11 next week, and that could definitely change things for the better, too, depending on the result” she added.
According to data released by the federal government on Monday, the Edward River council area has the lowest vaccination rate in the state: 66 per cent of residents aged 16 and over have received a first dose and 55 per cent are fully vaccinated.
The double-dose rate in Albury – 72.5 per cent – is also below the state average, although more than 94 per cent of its 16 and over population has received a first dose.
Albury mayor Kevin Mack said most cases were younger people who had only received one or no dose.
“They are doing really well, as in, they are not in hospital,” he said, attributing the spread to the “transitory nature” of the age group’s social lives.
Residents of border communities do not need to complete a declaration form if entering NSW from Victoria provided they remain within the border region. If they have travelled beyond the region, the stay-at-home rules for people entering from Victoria apply.
As high case numbers continue to be recorded in Victoria, Cr Mack said the spread of the virus from the south was “beyond our control”, noting recent cases in the area have had origins in both Melbourne and Sydney.
“People in Albury-Wodonga see ourselves as one community, we don’t see the border,” he said.
He attributed the jump in cases to younger people with minimal symptoms being tested – there were more than 1000 tests reported at Albury’s clinics on Thursday, double the daily figure last week.
Other areas in NSW experienced slight increases in cases on Thursday.
Eighty of the new cases were from South Western Sydney Local Health District, up from 60 reported on Wednesday. Seventy-four cases were in the Hunter New England region, up from 62.
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