Thu, 02 Dec 2021

SYDNEY, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- COVID-19 cases in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) might rise and hit another peak in February, as the state plans to release all restrictions for fully-vaccinated people by mid-December, a research modeling showed.

The study released on Monday was compiled by OzSAGE, a multi-disciplinary network of healthcare experts. It updated the current modelling of the state's COVID-19 "roadmap" which has predicted the outbreak of the Delta virus strain since mid-June.

Under present conditions, the experts warn that NSW could face another upsurge in cases possibly from Dec. 15 with a peak about two months later.

One of the main causes for that spike would be that vaccine immunity wanes after about six months, when people would again become susceptible to the virus.

Meanwhile, NSW is planning to welcome international travelers from Dec. 1 and release all the COVID-19 restrictions by Dec. 15, when 95 percent of the eligible population is expected to be fully vaccinated.

The experts note that countries such as Denmark and Singapore have recently seen surges despite high vaccination rates, and Australia must also be prepared for future surges.

"In opening up Australia, the strain to our health systems from COVID-19 must be considered," said Professor Raina MacIntyre from the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), who contributed to the OzSAGE report.

"When cases surge, the health system becomes strained... and Australia must also be prepared for future surges," MacIntyre said.

The experts, however, believe NSW's prognosis would notably improve if children aged from 5 to 11 are soon eligible to get vaccinated, and testing and contact tracing capacity is maintained at high levels, since childcare and schools are soon becoming the "new frontier" of COVID-19.

NSW Health authorities reported on Tuesday that 81 percent of people aged 12 to 15 have received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines and 75.4 percent are fully vaccinated.

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