Intensive care cases in Australia’s New South Wales will hit a peak in October as COVID-19 infections accumulate, said the premier of the country’s most-populous state, which reported record daily new infections on Monday.
New South Wales, the epicentre of Australia’s current outbreak, declared a record 1,290 new cases as the nation struggles to contain the highly contagious delta variant.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the state was preparing for additional hospitalizations as infections pile up, before increased vaccination coverage starts to ease the pressure.
“We anticipate that the worst month, the worst time for our intensive care unit, will be in October,” Berejiklian said in the state capital Sydney.
“We will need to manage things differently because we are in the middle of a pandemic, but we will cope.”
There are 840 people in hospital for COVID-19 in New South Wales, with 137 in intensive care and 48 requiring ventilation. The state reported four additional fatalities on Monday, taking the COVID-19 death toll to 1,003 in Australia.
One of the four was the first known death of an Aboriginal person. The 50-year-old man, who was not vaccinated, lived in western NSW where vaccination rates are particularly low, raising fears there will be many more deaths there.
“Aboriginal people were deemed to be vulnerable communities, vulnerable groups in the vaccine rollout. And clearly that has failed,” Linda Burney, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, told reporters.
Australia has used a system of strict lockdowns and quarantine to keep coronavirus infection and death rates lower than in most comparable nations, however the delta variant is now pressuring health services.
Just over 33 per cent of those aged 16 and older have received two vaccine doses, well below most comparable nations, according to government data.
-From Reuters, last updated at 7:15 a.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
What’s happening around the world
As of early Monday morning, more than 216.4 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking coronavirus cases. The reported global death toll stood at 4.5 million.
In the Americas, the government’s top infectious disease expert says the U.S. is sticking with its recommendation for Americans to get coronavirus booster shots eight months after receiving the vaccine but will be open to changes based on evolving data. Dr. Anthony Fauci said there’s “no doubt” in his mind that people will need to get an extra shot after they have received the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, given the highly contagious delta variant.
He indicated the administration remained focused on doing that in an “expeditious” and “feasible” way after the eight-month mark, with doses beginning the week of Sept. 20, pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore has fully vaccinated 80 per cent of its population, reaching a milestone that would make the country “more resilient to COVID-19,” according to a top government official. Singapore’s 80 per cent vaccination rate among its 5.7 million population ranks it among the most vaccinated countries in the world.
“It is the result of the collective effort of many people working behind the scenes, and the people of Singapore coming forward to take care of themselves and the people around them,” said Singapore’s Health Minister Ong Ye Kung in a Facebook post Sunday.
In the Middle East, Israel on Sunday began offering a booster to children as young as 12, and its prime minister said a campaign that began a month ago among seniors has slowed a rise in severe illness caused by the delta variant.
Yemen received its first shipment of vaccines made by Johnson & Johnson on Sunday, roughly 151,000 doses, the health ministry said.
In Africa, health officials in South Africa reported 7,740 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and 134 additional deaths.
In Europe, some two million French workers in restaurants and other service jobs must now show a health pass to go to work, as part of government virus-fighting efforts. The public is already required to show the pass to go to French restaurants, tourist sites and many other public venues.
Several thousand people marched through the streets of Berlin on Sunday for a second day of unauthorized protest against vaccinations and restrictions aimed at curbing a fourth wave of the pandemic.
-From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 7:05 a.m. ET