THE federal government's vaccine rollout co-ordinator Lieutenant General John Frewen announced yesterday that 50.1 per cent of the national population aged 16 and above was fully vaccinated, a figure in sight of the 70 per cent needed to trigger "life after lockdown".
Figures vary across the country, but extrapolations of vaccination rates indicate NSW should hit the 70 per cent mark by October 11 - a fortnight this Monday.
In Victoria, the Andrews government is saying it will likely take his state until late October before the target figure will allow restrictions to be eased or lifted.
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When the roadmap was unfolded, Premier Gladys Berejiklian tried to shift the debate from case numbers to vaccination rates: but both sets of figures are important, and the public will not be fobbed off, especially if they sense a change in messaging is an attempt to take the heat off a politician or a government.
In NSW, the Delta outbreak does appear to have peaked.
Cases are still above 1000 a day, but they are down by a third on the worst days at the start of the month.
This outbreak long ago dwarfed NSW initial brush with COVID, last year.
Victoria was the hardest-hit state in 2020, but the previous peak of 686 cases has already been eclipsed by almost 100, and there is no sign the faster Delta infection rate is starting to slow.
This is not good news.
Neither is there anything particularly encouraging about the situation here in the Hunter, where the accompanying graph shows infections have risen rapidly.
Admittedly, yesterday's total of 38 cases was down on Thursday's 41 and Wednesday's 45, but it's too early to tell whether this heralds a sustained improvement, or whether the numbers are "bouncing around".
Worryingly, the Allogio Newcastle Beach motel, a long-established tourist motel in Parnell Place, Newcastle East, has been confirmed as the site of 13 new cases, the biggest such cluster yet seen in the Hunter.
Time will tell whether this outbreak is under control, or whether it's the tip of an unwanted iceberg.
With its terrace houses and apartment blocks, the East End is one of the most densely populated parts of the city.
It also hosts thousands of visitors each day, as people from surrounding areas arrive to legally enjoy their COVID-restricted exercise.
Most people are wearing masks and social distancing, and it would be an unwanted blow if access to the suburb, the harbour, Nobbys and the beaches was restricted.
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