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NSW records 646 new Covid cases as Dr. Kerry Chant warns of a NEW strain of the Delta variant

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NSW has registered 646 new Covid cases and 11 new deaths from the virus as Chief Health Officer Dr. Kerry Chant warned of a worrisome new mutation in the Delta tribe.

Officials in the state said two women and nine men were among the 11 Covid-related fatalities in the 24 hours to 8 p.m. Thursday night.

dr. Chant said genome sequencing performed on eight cases in NSW had discovered another variant of the highly contagious strain that has plunged Greater Sydney into lockdown for the past 12 weeks.

“We have found a new Delta strain that is in a different order from the current strain circulating in Sydney,” she said, announcing the latest numbers in a live video address on Friday.

The state’s deputy prime minister earlier on Friday denied claims that Dr. Chant – NSW’s top health official – declined to back Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet’s accelerated easing of lockdown restrictions as new data shows the hospital system is under less pressure than predicted.

It was reported overnight that she did not support the changes Perrottet made to Freedom Day — before being “disapproved” at his first press conference.

dr. Chant was noticeably absent on Thursday as the new prime minister unveiled a series of changes to the lockdown roadmap.

But on Friday morning, NSW Deputy Prime Minister Paul Toole dismissed reports that she was not on board with the changes.

“No, it isn’t,” he told Sunrise. “The day before I had a crisis cabinet and Kerry Chant was in the meeting. We don’t make decisions without the support of NSW Health or Dr. Kerry Chant.’

It comes at a time when figures from NSW Health, obtained exclusively by Daily Mail Australia, reveal that health system demand was actually lower than expected in October – the month when cases and hospitalizations are said to peak – due to high vaccination levels.

Newly minted Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet announced a revised strategy on Thursday to reopen NSW

It comes as the Australian Medical Association of NSW has warned that easing restrictions too soon could flood the hospital system with Covid cases and burnout workers.

“We have a new Prime Minister at the wheel, but that is no good reason to deviate from the course previously charted,” said AMA NSW President Danielle McMullen.

“People’s safety must be the Prime Minister’s top priority.

“Easing restrictions too early will not be a ‘popular’ decision if it means skyrocketing the number of people contracting the virus and ending up in hospital.”

But in a statement to the Daily Mail Australia, NSW Health said high vaccination coverage meant demand for the health system was actually lower than expected in October, despite predictions of a spike in cases.

Modeling by NSW Health predicted that demand for hospital beds from Covid patients would peak in October, but instead, hospital admissions had fallen 27 percent since the September 17 peak.

“Due to faster-than-estimated vaccination coverage, this demand is currently lower than expected,” a spokesman for NSW Health told the Daily Mail Australia.

“However, our hospitals and ICU remain very busy with patients with Covid-19 and there are currently cases across the state.”

Katherine Gibney of the Doherty Institute said the number of Covid cases will increase as restrictions ease, but getting out of the lockdown is inevitable.

“Hopefully with high vaccination rates we will be protected against the more serious illnesses and those requiring hospitalization and IC, but we expect these to increase in the coming weeks and months,” Dr Gibney told ABC TV on Friday.

“It has to be done. We cannot live indefinitely in lockdown.’

The new head of state announced on Thursday a review of NSW's roadmap out of lockdown (pictured, bar staff make drinks in Sydney)

The new head of state announced on Thursday a review of NSW’s roadmap out of lockdown (pictured, bar staff make drinks in Sydney)

Perrottet announced a revised strategy on Thursday to reopen NSW.

After meeting with the crisis cabinet on Wednesday, as the state reached a milestone of 70 percent double-dose vaccination, Perrottet announced the changes, with the state set to come out of the months-long lockdown on Monday.

As part of the new plans, indoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people, not including children under 12. Outdoor gatherings are increased to 30 people.

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant.  There has been speculation as to why Dr Chant was not present at Thursday's press conference, with a political reporter claiming she disagreed with Mr Perrottet's revisions

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant. There has been speculation as to why Dr Chant was not present at Thursday’s press conference, with a political reporter claiming she disagreed with Mr Perrottet’s revisions

For weddings and funerals 100 people can attend.

NSW’s indoor pools can also be open for classes, training and rehabilitation activities.

Restrictions will ease further when 80 percent of the adult population is fully stung, expected around Oct. 25.

That’s when 3,000 people will be admitted to outdoor events with a ticket and nightclubs can reopen, but without dancing.

Masks are also not required in office buildings in an effort to return workers to Sydney’s CBD.

“We have a new Prime Minister at the wheel, but that is no good reason to deviate from the course previously charted,” said AMA NSW President Danielle McMullen.

While the AMA NSW urged the Prime Minister to

While the AMA NSW urged the Prime Minister to “step on the brakes” for the easing of restrictions, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and lobbying group Business NSW welcomed the changes to the state government’s roadmap

These freedoms only apply to fully vaccinated people until December 1, when freedoms for non-vaccinated people will be restored.

While AMA NSW urged the Prime Minister to “step on the brakes” for the easing of restrictions, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and lobbying group Business NSW welcomed the changes to the state government’s roadmap.

Up to 10 residents, excluding children, are allowed to gather in homes across the state and up to 100 are allowed to attend weddings and funerals (photo, Opera Bar in Sydney)

Up to 10 residents, excluding children, are allowed to gather in homes across the state and up to 100 are allowed to attend weddings and funerals (photo, Opera Bar in Sydney)

“Now that NSW has crossed the 70 per cent double vaccination rate threshold… Australians are starting to get their lives back,” said Mr Morrison.

However, the hospitality industry had mixed feelings. Restaurant and Catering Australia were disappointed that customer limits were not increased or removed.

Meanwhile, there has been speculation as to why Dr Chant was not present at Thursday’s press conference, with a political reporter claiming she disagreed with Mr Perrottet’s revisions.

“I have confirmed to multiple sources aware of last night’s discussions with Dr Chant that she did not fully endorse this new roadmap,” political reporter Chris O’Keefe tweeted at 9 News.

“The Chief Health Officer warned the new Prime Minister that all these changes come with risks, but changing a roadmap that was just nine days old was ultimately a matter for the government.”

NSW’S LOCKDOWN ROADMAP: THE CHANGES

These apply to people who have been fully vaccinated.

FROM 11 OCTOBER:

* Indoor meetings with a maximum of 10 people (from five)

* Outdoor gatherings limited to 30 people (from 20)

* Weddings and funerals with a maximum of 100 people (from 50)

*Indoor swimming pools are reopening

* Workers in regional areas can return to their workplaces if they have had one vaccination, but must be fully stung by November 1st

FROM OCTOBER 25, AFTER NSW HAS 80 PERCENT DOUBLE DOSE COVERAGE:

* Indoor meetings with a maximum of 20 people

* Outdoor meetings with a maximum of 50 people

* Outdoor events with a maximum of 3000 people

* Nightclubs are allowed to open again (no dancing)

* Masks no longer need to be worn in office buildings

CHANGES TO THE BACK-TO-SCHOOL PLAN:

* Kindergarten, Year One and Year 12 return on October 18

* All other years back on October 25

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