Experts have urged Australians to be cautious as lockdowns end and the country reopens, to lessen pressure on hospitals.
Former deputy chief health officer Nick Coatsworth said people should keep getting tested and wear masks in certain settings to help the healthcare system.
“We have to be cautious as policymakers that we take prudent steps out of lockdown,” he told the Nine Network on Monday.
“Because we want to maintain the capacity of our healthcare system, which as we know is stretched.”
Dr Coatsworth said Australia’s experience would be grounded in a world-leading vaccination rate, which would underpin what happens during the reopening phase.
“I’m hoping that the hospitalisations themselves will stay down,” he said.
“Cases may well increase as we start to mingle in the community, there’s no doubt about that, but it is hospitalisations and intensive care admissions that we need to worry about.”
Australia has fully vaccinated 67.9 per cent of its population aged 16 and over, while 84.6 per cent have received at least one dose.
Infectious diseases pediatrician Robert Booy said exuberant young people would pass coronavirus on as the country reopened.
“We’re going to have a surge of COVID outbreaks of the unvaccinated, there is no doubt about that,” he told the Seven Network.
“We will continue to have deaths and probably a few more for the next month and then it will settle down.”
Professor Booy said the decision to lift lockdown in Melbourne later this week was taking a bigger risk than Sydney because of higher case numbers.
“They’re going to get real stress on the health system, on the hospitals, on the ambulances, on the intensive care units,” he said.
“They’ll be able to manage, but probably only just. It’s going to be really tough on them.”
Victoria recorded 1838 new local cases and seven deaths on Sunday, while in NSW there were 301 new infections and 10 people died.
Australia will start issuing international proof of coronavirus vaccination from Tuesday with international travel to resume for more people from November 1.
Dr Coastworth said the NSW government’s decision to scrap quarantine for overseas travellers from that date should be safe but also should be monitored.