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Kerry Chant: Top NSW doctor thanks millions of Australians for Covid sacrifice

Kerry Chant appeared to hit a farewell note as she thanked NSW’s eight million residents for their sacrifices in the fight against Covid, as the state prepares to emerge from lockdown.    

The state’s highly-regarded chief health officer faced the camera alone on Friday as she announced the state recorded 646 new Covid-19 cases detected statewide in the 24 hours to Thursday night.

‘Can I extend my appreciation to the hard work the community has done during these very difficult times,’ she said at the end of a Facebook livestream. ‘Thank you.’

Dr Chant has stood side-by-side with the NSW premier throughout the pandemic to keep the nation up to date about the virus’ spread in Australia’s largest state.

But new NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has mostly sidelined her from his first official announcements and on Thursday delivered his fast-tracked roadmap out of lockdown without her – prompting speculation she refused to endorse the changes. 

Dr Chant appeared nervous about the accelerated re-opening as she urged ‘caution’ among the state’s residents ahead of the first stage of restriction easing on Monday.

A hair stylist cleans mirrors at the Wild Life Hair Sogo salon in Surry Hills on Wednesday.  NSW’s eight million residents are preparing to emerge from lockdown in a matter of days

‘We are looking forward to opening up on Monday but it is important that as we do, we do it safely,’ she said.

‘Please remember that it’s critical that you continue to wear your masks where they’re required, continue to maintain that physical distancing and most importantly, do not go out and about if you have Covid symptoms. 

‘Instead, get tested and isolate and wait until you’ve got a negative result.

‘It’s an exciting time, but I caution us to do everything safely.’ 

The state's chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant faced the camera alone on Friday as she announced the 646 new Covid-19 cases detected statewide in the 24 hours to Thursday night

The state’s chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant faced the camera alone on Friday as she announced the 646 new Covid-19 cases detected statewide in the 24 hours to Thursday night

Two days after the state reached a 70 per cent double-dose vaccination rate, Dr Chant said hitting the 90 per cent mark was an ‘ambitious’ but achievable target. 

As of Friday, 89.4 per cent of the state’s residents have now received one Covid-19 vaccine dose and 70.3 per cent are fully vaccinated. 

The state’s deputy premier earlier on Friday hit back at claims Dr Chant refused to endorse Mr Perrottet’s revisions to the state’s roadmap out of lockdown. 

Overnight it was reported she did not support the new premier’s changes to Freedom Day – before she was ‘snubbed’ from his first press conference.  

On Friday morning NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole rejected reports she was not on board with the changes. 

‘No, that’s not the case,’ he told Sunrise. ‘I had a crisis cabinet the day before and Kerry Chant was in the meeting. We don’t make decisions without the support of NSW Health or Dr Kerry Chant.’   

New NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has mostly sidelined Dr Chant from his first official announcements - including on Thursday as he delivered the state's fast-tracked roadmap out of lockdown

New NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has mostly sidelined Dr Chant from his first official announcements – including on Thursday as he delivered the state’s fast-tracked roadmap out of lockdown

NSW Health figures exclusively obtained by Daily Mail Australia reveal demand on the health system was actually lower than expected in October – the month cases and hospitalisations were supposed to peak – due to high vaccination levels.

It comes as the Australian Medical Association of NSW has warned easing restrictions too quickly could inundate the hospital system with Covid cases and burn out workers. 

‘We’ve got a new premier in the driver’s seat, but that’s not a good enough reason to deviate from the course previously set,’ AMA NSW President Danielle McMullen said.

‘Keeping people safe must be the premier’s top priority.

Dr Chant once stood side-by-side with the NSW premier to inform the nation about the spread of the virus in Australia's largest state

Dr Chant once stood side-by-side with the NSW premier to inform the nation about the spread of the virus in Australia’s largest state

‘Relaxing restrictions too soon will not be a ‘popular’ decision if it means the number of people contracting the virus and ending up in hospital skyrockets.’

But in a statement provided to Daily Mail Australia, NSW Health said high vaccination rates meant demand on the health system was actually lower than expected in October, despite predictions case numbers would peak. 

Modelling by the state’s health department predicted the demand for hospital beds from Covid patients would peak in October, but instead the number of hospital admissions had fallen by 27 per cent since the peak on September 17.  

‘Thanks to the faster-than-estimated rates of vaccination, this demand is currently tracking lower than expected,’ a NSW Health spokesman told Daily Mail Australia.

Newly-minted Premier Dominic Perrottet announced an overhaul of NSW’s roadmap out of lockdown on Thursday (pictured, bar staff make drinks in Sydney) 

‘However, our hospitals and ICU remain very busy with patients with Covid-19 and there are currently cases throughout the state.’ 

The Doherty Institute’s Katherine Gibney said while Covid case numbers will go up as restrictions loosen, easing out of lockdown is inevitable.

‘Hopefully with high vaccination rates we’ll be protected against the more severe disease and those requiring hospitalisation and ICU but we are expecting these to increase in the coming weeks and couple of months,’ Dr Gibney told ABC TV on Friday.

‘It has to be done. We can’t live in lockdown indefinitely.’

NSW’S LOCKDOWN ROADMAP: THE CHANGES

These apply to people who are fully vaccinated.

FROM OCTOBER 11:

* Indoor gatherings capped at 10 people (up from five)

* Outdoor gatherings capped at 30 people (up from 20)

* Weddings and funerals capped at 100 people (up from 50)

* Indoor swimming pools to reopen

* Workers in regional areas can return to their workplace if they’ve had one vaccination, but must be fully jabbed by November 1

FROM OCTOBER 25, AFTER NSW HITS 80 PER CENT DOUBLE-DOSE COVERAGE:

* Indoor gatherings capped at 20 people

* Outdoor gatherings capped at 50 people

* Ticketed outdoor events capped at 3000 people

* Nightclubs can reopen (no dancing)

* Masks no longer have 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 return on October 25

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk