Covid-19 cases in Sydney, Australia hit a new daily record on Wednesday (25), putting parts of the health care system under “heavy pressure,” officials said, as they called for an increase in vaccines to help reduce the rate of hospitalizations.
Despite two months of blockade, the state of New South Wales reported 919 new cases amid a growing outbreak of the Delta variant, pushing Australia’s daily case number to a new pandemic peak just below 1,000. A total of 113 people in the state are in intensive care, 98 of them unvaccinated.
“This highlights … the fact that vaccination is the key. We need to increase vaccine coverage levels,” state health official Kerry Chant told a news conference.
Australia, struggling to control a third wave of the coronavirus, has trapped more than half of its population of 25 million, including its largest cities Sydney and Melbourne, and is accelerating an initially slow vaccine rollout.
About 31% of people over the age of 16 have been fully vaccinated, while 54% have received at least one dose.
“We say that the most important figure in the future is the vaccination rate and that remains the case,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian of New Wales told reporters in Sydney, the state capital.
“There is no doubt that parts of the hospital network are under severe pressure when the majority of cases, 80% of cases come from the same region,” she added, pointing to the high number of cases in Sydney’s southwestern suburbs.
The rise in cases comes as Australia’s federal government pressures states to follow a four-stage national reopening plan.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg warned state leaders on Wednesday that current emergency economic support could be withdrawn when the country reaches a Covid-19 vaccination rate of 70-80%, even if states and territories decide to retain control of border.
“There should be no expectation on behalf of prime ministers and prime ministers that our emergency economic support will continue on the scale it currently is,” Frydenberg told Seven News.
In Victoria, new cases fell for a second day in a row, with 45 new cases detected, down from 50 the day before, as authorities seek to boost vaccine implementation, allowing anyone over 16 to make an appointment.
Despite recent Delta outbreaks, Australia’s coronavirus numbers are still relatively low, with just over 46,600 cases and 986 deaths. Deaths in the latest outbreak increased to 76, although the death rate has decreased from last year.