NSW records 1284 more cases, 12 deaths as state announces new home quarantine trial
NSW has recorded a further 1284 COVID-19 cases and 12 new deaths, as the state announces a home quarantine trial for returned travellers.
Of the deaths, two people were in their 20s, three people were in their 50s, one person was in their 60s, two people were in their 70s, three people were in their 80s, and one person was in their 90s.
Seven of the 12 people who died were not vaccinated, two people had received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and three people were fully vaccinated.
“Every day, the statistics are given out in detail, but behind every death is a family, a group of people who are mourning and our thoughts go to them,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Friday morning.
“It’s always difficult when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel to stay the course … we really urge everybody to stick to the rules.
“There are opportunities for us to consider easing restrictions moving forward, but we really need everybody to stay the course.”
The home quarantine trial for travellers returning from overseas to Sydney will launch in the coming weeks and will allow 175 people to isolate for seven days at home instead of in a hotel.
The participants will be selected by NSW Health and may include NSW residents, non-Australian residents and Qantas air crew.
NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said it was a critical step in phasing out hotel quarantine.
“This will build on the evidence collected through the South Australian trial as part of the national plan where we utilise technology, particularly facial recognition and location-based services apps on your phone, to allow police and health to continue to check in on a person during their home-based quarantine,” he said.
NSW is set to hit 50 per cent double-dose vaccination rate on Friday as the state inches closer to the threshold to reopen.
“It gives us heart that in some weeks, we’ll reach 70 per cent double dose and enjoy many more things than we can today and start to feel more normal about life at that stage,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Meanwhile, Sydney’s first drive-through COVID-19 vaccination clinic began taking patients on Friday morning with hopes it will boost inoculation rates in one of the worst-affected areas in the state.
The facility will operate at the Belmore Sports Ground car park and will offer Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines to eligible people on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for the next six weeks.
Earlier this week, Belmore Medical GP Dr Jamal Rifi, who is leading the initiative, said the clinic was “only limited by the amount of vaccine” allocated and could operate seven days a week with state government assistance.
He hopes to be able to deliver up to 1000 jabs a day to people sitting in their cars.
The clinic is in the Canterbury-Bankstown local government area, one of the Sydney hotspots to remain under tighter lockdown restrictions after the curfew lifted on Wednesday.
“We need to open up at the same time with the rest of Sydney,” Dr Rifi said.
“Otherwise social cohesion and social harmony is not going to be as strong as we would like it to be because we have seen the discrepancy in the way that we are locked down while the rest of Sydney [is] enjoying the beaches at Bondi. That’s not fair.”
He said innovation was required to boost vaccination rates by another 20 per cent and the clinic would allow families to be inoculated “in one go”, while also appealing to anyone concerned about going indoors to get the jab.
People will be required to make bookings for the clinic through the Hotdoc website.
It will be the second drive-through vaccination clinic to operate in NSW after one opened in the regional city of Dubbo in August.
NSW is on Friday expected to reach 50 per cent vaccination coverage of people aged 16 and older while more than 80 per cent have received their first dose.
In a statement last month, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) said “careful and comprehensive planning is strongly recommended to establish a drive-through vaccination clinic”.
This included planning traffic flow, preparing for incidents such as car accidents or staff absences, including due to inclement weather, and ensuring all safety requirements for post-vaccination precautions and observations were met in principle and implemented.
ATAGI recommended vaccinations be by appointment only at drive-through clinics, “due to the potentially large demand”, but said patients could be accepted without a booking if capacity allowed.
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