The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has reported 390 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, including a wide spectrum of ages hospitalised and in intensive care.
More than 300 people are in hospital, with 63 in the ICU. Of the people in ICU, four are in their 20s, six are in their 30s, five are in their 40s, and 15 are in their 50s, a health official said.
Two people have also died overnight, including an unvaccinated woman in her 40s at her home in Sydney and a vaccinated man in his 90s who was in palliative care in the Hunter region.
So far, 38 people in the state have died amid the current outbreak.
“Behind every single statistic is a loved one, a family, and many carers,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Friday. “We extend our heartfelt thoughts to all of them.”
Multiple parts of NSW are in lockdown until Aug. 28, including Greater Sydney and its surrounding regions and further in western and far western NSW.
This prompted rumours of an impending blanked state-wide lockdown. However, that was not announced on Friday.
That said, Berejiklian said Blacktown and Mount Druitt in western Sydney had become areas of particular concern for health authorities, with a rise in cases.
About 105,000 were administered COVID vaccines on Thursday, the premier said.
Meanwhile, almost 20 people linked to a special needs school in Sydney’s north have caught COVID-19, including students with severe autism.
NSW Health has uncovered 18 cases associated with the Giant Steps special education school in Gladesville, including three staff, seven students, and eight family members.
It comes after a COVID-positive person attended a vaccination hub at Qudos Bank Arena, currently being used for western Sydney’s Year 12 students. The arena is a casual contact site on the afternoon of Aug. 10.
NSW Health officials are also “very concerned” about the potential spread of COVID-19 among vulnerable regional communities, with most new cases in Dubbo and Walgett diagnosed in Aboriginal people.
Ten new cases were reported in Walgett overnight.
The cases led the state government to call a one-week snap lockdown for the Walgett, Dubbo, Bogan, Bourke, Brewarrina, Coonamble, Gilgandra, Narromine, and Warren areas on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed an additional 7,680 Pfizer vaccines would be provided for the affected areas, including Walgett.
Western Local Health District Chief Executive Scott McLachlan confirmed the “vast majority” of those cases were people, including children.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Thursday acknowledged there had been problems delivering adequate vaccine supplies to Walgett. However, he said there was strong demand for Pfizer in those communities.
The Dharriwaa Elders Group at Walgett has also issued an urgent request on Thursday evening for more trained nurses to support Aboriginal Medical Services.
Hazzard admitted those services were understaffed.
AAP contributed to this report.