Hunter Records 82 New COVID Cases As Authorities Call For Caution On ‘Freedom Day’
The Hunter recorded 82 new cases of COVID on ‘Freedom Day’ as the region continues to show some of the highest numbers in New South Wales.
- There have been 1,768 cases of coronavirus in the Hunter New England Health District since August 5
- Hairdressers, gyms and hospitality venues welcome customers back today
- Deputy Premier Says Indigenous Immunization Rates Must Improve As State Opens Up
Many parts of the region have yet to meet the 70% double vaccination target and health officials are urging residents to be careful despite the relaxed restrictions.
Twenty-eight of the 82 cases in the Hunter New England (HNE) Health District were in Lake Macquarie.
There were 14 in Cessnock, nine in Newcastle, seven in Maitland, four in Port Stephens, three in Muswellbrook and one in the Upper Hunter.
Hunter’s public health comptroller David Durrheim said he expected a cautious approach to opening up the retail and hospitality sectors.
“I think until we all move towards the 90% double vaxx, we’ll be a little more careful,” he said.
He said the Hunter needs to prepare for more cases.
“I think we’re going to have a few hectic weeks with the Delta strain,” he said.
“So the hospitals are preparing, the health system is preparing.”
A total of 496 new cases of locally acquired coronavirus have been recorded across New South Wales.
Only the South West Sydney LHD recorded more cases than the HNE during the last reporting period.
Fully vaccinated people can now have up to 10 double-dose guests over the age of 12 in their home.
Cafes, restaurants, bars, gyms, hairdressers and retail stores can reopen by following the one person per four square meters rule.
Karen Radzievic owns a women’s clothing store in Boolaroo which is now welcoming new customers.
“We had a thriving business and seeing it shut down through no fault of our own was difficult,” she said.
The company set up an online website and click-and-collect system during the lockdown, but still has plenty of clothing to sell.
“We closed in August with a lot of winter and trans-seasonal stock – we are now reopening with a store full of summer clothes,” Ms. Radzievic said.
Ms. Radzievic hopes customers who oppose vaccination requirements won’t cause too much trouble.
“There are people with all different beliefs about immunization and for us now to mandate that with people walking through the door, I’m pretty nervous,” she said.
Noel Pate, who runs a news agency in Boolaroo, says residents are expressing concern over the possible influx of people into the area.
“If people always obey the ground rules, I think we should all survive,” he said.
“The COVID numbers haven’t gone down in Lake Macquarie at this point, so yeah, we just have to wait and see, I guess.”
Deputy Premier and New England MP Barnaby Joyce was in Lake Macquarie today to announce funding for the Hunter Sports Center in Glendale and took the opportunity to urge people to receive the jab.
“We’re done with this, we’re all fed up,” he said.
Access to vaccine supplies has been improved in some communities which are about three weeks behind the state’s overall rate.
Rates in the Indigenous community of Hunter have become of great concern, with 60 of last week’s cases diagnosed among Indigenous people.
Less than half of the region’s eligible indigenous population is fully immunized.
“We still need to make sure that we increase that immunization rate in the aboriginal community,” Joyce said.
“The National Security Committee makes sure we have real focus, because they have real vulnerabilities.
Additional reporting by Delia Bell.
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