NSW is likely to achieve 80 per cent first-dose COVID-19 vaccination coverage in people 16 and older on Wednesday as authorities try to stem the spread of the virus in the Illawarra.
Some 79.5 per cent of the over-16 population in NSW had come forward to get at least one jab by Tuesday, and 47.5 per cent were fully vaccinated.
Under the NSW government’s roadmap, vaccinated people will be released from lockdown when the state reaches 70 per cent double-dose coverage – expected around in about a month.
More changes will be triggered at 80 per cent, including international travel and large events.
Meanwhile, Australian Defence Force personnel have joined NSW Police in the Illawarra region to help with COVID-19 welfare and compliance checks as cases of the virus increase.
Soldiers are already helping police patrol 12 Sydney local government areas considered hotspots.
Health authorities became concerned in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District after it recorded 53 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday, 27 cases the next day and 17 more on Monday.
The coastal area includes the state’s third-largest city of Wollongong.
Southern Region Commander Assistant Commissioner Joe Cassar has welcomed the arrival of troops in the Illawarra.
“Our officers and ADF personnel will be making daily visits and checking in on those who are self-isolating and making sure they’re okay during lockdown,” he said on Wednesday.
“I ask everyone across our region to continue complying with the Public Health Orders and do everything you can to help us prevent further spread of the Delta variant.”
Some suburbs in Sydney’s west and southwest remain under heightened restrictions despite having some of the highest vaccination rates in the country.
Schofields, Marsden Park, The Ponds and Toongabbie are among the suburbs to have at least 90 per cent of residents vaccinated.
Because their council areas are still labelled hotspots, residents in those suburbs are subject to an overnight curfew. Unlike other NSW residents, they can only picnic with persons from their households.
The future of southwest and western Sydney will be debated during a two-hour economic recovery summit hosted by the NSW opposition on Wednesday.
Around 20 speakers from industry groups, arts organisations, business groups, social services organisations and unions are slated to address the virtual summit.
Labor says it’s looking for positive ideas to get the region booming again once lockdown ends, and it wants to bridge the gap between the west and the rest of Sydney.
Meanwhile, a nursing home in western Sydney that was the scene of a COVID-19 catastrophe last year has been locked down after another virus scare.
Newmarch House, where 19 residents died from COVID-19 last year, is locked down and residents are confined to their rooms after an infectious doctor reportedly visited three times last week.
NSW reported 1127 more locally-acquired cases and two more deaths on Tuesday.
There are 1253 patients in the state’s hospitals, including 231 in intensive care.
NSW Health’s Jeremy McAnulty on Tuesday said it was too early to know if case numbers were flattening after the state recorded its lowest daily total in almost two weeks.
“We’re seeing … that cases haven’t been increasing as fast as they have been, but that may be an effect of the weekend,” he said.
“We’ll look to see what’s happening throughout the rest of this week to know how we’re going.”