Australia news LIVE: States and territories edge closer to vaccination targets as COVID-19 cases continue to grow across the nation

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Experts predict thousands of Victorian cases by October as lockdown drags on

Victoria will remain in some form of lockdown until rates of full vaccination reach 70 per cent after the state recorded 120 fresh cases on Wednesday, with warnings that cases could peak at 2000 a day next month.

The state government announced that a slight easing of rules could happen by September 23, including allowing Victorians to travel 10 kilometres from their homes for exercise and essential shopping, exercise outdoors for up to three hours per day, and have personal training sessions with one other person.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Wednesday. Credit:Getty

The only restriction to ease sooner will be the reopening of children’s playgrounds on Friday, dashing hopes that Melbourne’s curfew and the statewide five-kilometre travel restriction would be scrapped this week.

Business groups derided what they called the lack of ambition in plans to carefully reopen, while experts were divided about whether some further modest easing was justified due to the strain of the state’s sixth lockdown on Victorians.

More on this story here.

COVID hospital numbers surge in NSW, but worst to come in October

The number of people in NSW admitted to hospital with COVID-19 has jumped 42 per cent in one week, with infected patients spread across 35 of the state’s hospitals and more than 1400 healthcare workers now in isolation.

Swelling case numbers have forced the private hospital network to activate surge plans and deploy their nurses to public hospital intensive care wards.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian at Wednesday’s COVID-19 update.Credit:Kate Geraghty

Sydney Adventist Hospital in Wahroonga confirmed it is now “prepared to accept” COVID-19 patients and St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Darlinghurst will open a dedicated “amber” ward for close contacts of cases who require other medical treatment.

There are 150 infected patients in intensive care wards, taking up almost 18 per cent of the state’s ICU beds.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Wednesday warned that the state’s worst hospitalisation rate would be in October, but it would not halt the reopening of NSW when the vaccination rate hit 70 per cent.

More on NSW’s hospital system and reopening plans here.

Federal fury over Queensland ‘scaremongering’ on COVID and children

A furious political row has deepened divisions over the national plan to ease lockdowns after federal ministers slammed a “scaremongering” claim from Queensland about the danger to children from rising coronavirus cases.

Angry at new objections to the agreed plan, the federal government accused Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk of misleading Australians over the risks to children if and when restrictions are eased and case numbers might increase.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has tapped into community anxiety on the fact children under 12 can’t yet be vaccinated against COVID-19.Credit:Matt Dennien

Health experts have warned against panic about children being exposed to the virus when steady increase in vaccinations among older Australians results in a greater proportion of cases among those under 12, given there is no approved vaccine for this age group.

More on this story here.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning and thanks for your company.

It’s Thursday, September 2. I’m Broede Carmody and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage for the first half of the day.

Here’s everything you need to know before we get started.

  • Melbourne’s lockdown has been extended until at least September 23, but the playground ban will be lifted for children this week. From late September, the five-kilometre travel limit will be extended to 10 kilometres, people will be able to exercise outdoors for three hours and outdoor one-on-one personal training will be permitted – but only if 70 pent of Victorians have had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. Premier Daniel Andrews says it’s “clear” that case numbers are not going down. There were 120 new, locally acquired cases yesterday. Most of those were infectious in the community.
  • The number of people admitted to NSW hospitals with COVID-19 has jumped 42 per cent in one week and there are now 1400 healthcare workers in isolation. As a result, the private hospital network has activated surge plans and deployed nurses to public intensive care wards. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says she expects the pressure on the hospital system to peak in October. There were 1116 new, locally acquired cases of COVID-19 reported in NSW yesterday. The state appears on track to reach 70 per cent of adults having received a single dose of coronavirus vaccine today.
  • The ACT recorded 23 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday. Thirteen coronavirus patients are now in ACT hospitals. Chief Minister Andrew Barr says none of the people in hospital are fully vaccinated.
  • Queensland is on high alert after an infectious truck driver visited the state last month. It comes as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is criticised by the federal government after tapping into community concerns over COVID-19 and children.
  • And in overseas news, New Zealand recorded 75 cases of coronavirus yesterday. Auckland remains in lockdown and health authorities say they expect daily case numbers to bounce around in the coming days.
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