NSW pushing for vax target of 95pc or more

NSW's health chief is hoping the state can surpass the 95 per cent mark for COVID-19 vaccinations.
NSW's health chief is hoping the state can surpass the 95 per cent mark for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Rising COVID-19 vaccination rates across the country and the prospect of Christmas reunions have given people the confidence to book interstate holidays again.

NSW has 92.1 per cent of eligible people 16 and older with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 80.8 per cent of adults are fully vaccinated.

The state's chief health officer is eyeing higher rates.

"Ninety-two per cent is a great achievement, but let's get higher," Dr Kerry Chant said on Tuesday, adding that was required to protect the vulnerable.

"I want to get 95 per cent or even above."

Virgin Australia said bookings for flights soared in the 24 hours after Victoria and Queensland signalled they would open their borders before Christmas, once vaccination thresholds were met.

"We recorded a 134 per cent increase in bookings yesterday ... which is a fantastic result and snapshot of the pent-up demand to come once borders re-open," a spokesperson said.

Nearly half of all bookings were made for travel during December and January,

NSW recorded 273 locally acquired virus cases and four more deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday.

The number of people hospitalised with COVID-19 has dropped, with 589 in hospital including 128 in intensive care and 69 on ventilators.

Dr Chant is pleased high testing rates are being maintained, with 90,597 tests in 24 hours.

The fall in the number of people in hospital and in intensive care was also a relief for staff who have been working in a system under stress for months.

"But it will not mean they have much of a breather - we also have business as usual," Dr Chant said.

Less than two weeks after the first easing of restrictions, she warned an expected rise in case numbers was yet to come.

"There's a lot of uncertainties about what case numbers will do," Dr Chant said.

"Next week I will be really interested in what our numbers are."

Authorities believe case numbers will rise as more people interact, but this will also depend on how well the community adheres to the remaining restrictions.

"It is the responsibility of all of us to do all that we can, get vaccinated, continue to follow the public health advice," Dr Chant said.

"Let's try to make sure that our ICUs have as few as possible people with COVID in them, as we open up over this Christmas-New Year period."

NSW began the second stage of its roadmap out of lockdown on Monday after passing the 80 per cent fully vaccinated milestone.

Children in kindergarten, year one and 12 are back at school and other years return next week.

Restrictions have been eased in hospitality venues and up to 20 visitors are allowed in homes, while outdoor gatherings of up to 50 are allowed - but only for those who are fully vaccinated.

Vaccinated office workers are no longer required to wear masks, but masks are still required in other indoor areas, such as public transport or shops.

Fully vaccinated people returning to the office who maintain COVID-19 safe behaviour were "very unlikely" to become a close contact if a colleague became infected, Dr Chant said.

There have been 479 COVID-19 related deaths in NSW since the latest outbreak began on June 16, and 535 in total since the start of the global pandemic.

Australian Associated Press