‘Bleak’ outlook for NSW following record case numbers

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said things are looking 'bleak' for NSW.

New South Wales recorded 356 new Covid cases overnight prompting the federal health minister to warn the state may face restrictions for the rest of the year.

Greater Sydney has been in lockdown for six weeks, with Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt saying things looked “bleak” for the state until Christmas.

However, he backed NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s claim that vaccination rates were the only way out of lockdown for the state, saying more than 10 million Moderna vaccines would be delivered to Australia by the end of the year.

“But it’s almost impossible for anybody not to know somebody who has been vaccinated, that creates confidence… Australians are really stepping forward,” he told Channel Nine.

“Please keep doing that, I know it’s tough, I know it’s challenging, but please keep coming forward to be vaccinated.”

Berejiklian said that the highly contagious Delta strain had derailed previous suppression strategies.

“Strategies that may have worked in the past aren’t going to have effect with Delta,” she said.

“It is something we need to accept. Your approach has to be different. Fortunately, we have what we didn’t have before – a vaccine.”

The Premier has outlined she wants to see a “targeted” vaccination approach to those areas with the highest case numbers, particularly in Sydney’s western and south-western suburbs.

However, in some mixed messaging Prime Minister Scott Morrison said lockdowns were still the only option at the current vaccination levels.

“I have always said very clearly, that in the suppression phase lockdowns have to work,” he said.

“We know that the fight in New South Wales is the toughest of all those fights and there’s a lot at stake.

“Now, I want Australia to get to Christmas, but I want everybody around that table at Christmas time.”