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Concern for NSW region as cases drop

There are concerns for the NSW Hunter New England region after it accounted for almost a quarter of the state’s new COVID-19 cases, as the numbers continued to fall a week after restrictions began easing.

The Hunter New England accounted for 63 of the state’s 265 new cases recorded on Monday.

NSW also recorded five deaths, including a Cessnock woman in her 30s who died at John Hunter Hospital.

Premier Dominic Perrottet welcomed the lower case numbers, which dropped below 300 for the first time since the beginning of August. However, he again cautioned that infections would go up as restrictions ease.

The state began the second stage of its road map of lockdown on Monday after passing the 80 per cent full vaccination rate.

“As mobility increases across the state, case numbers will increase,” Mr Perrottet said on Monday.

“This is not over. There’s a long journey to go,” he said.

NSW residents can now start planning journeys north of the border, after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk revealed her state’s plan to reopen.

Fully vaccinated travellers who test negative will be allowed into Queensland without quarantining by December 17.

That is when the state is expected to pass its 80 per cent vaccination target, but Ms Palaszczuk said the date is “locked in”, indicating it is not reliant on the state hitting that target to allow travellers to skip quarantine.

From Wednesday, fully vaccinated people can apply for a permit for travel from “red zones” in NSW to Victoria without quarantining. They’ll need to test negative within 72 hours of arrival, and isolate until they receive another negative test result after arriving.

Fully vaccinated travellers from outside of “red zones” can travel to Victoria without testing or isolating.

Both still need a border permit.

There are 606 COVID-19 cases in NSW hospitals, with 132 people in intensive care and 71 on ventilators.

Since June 16 there have been 475 COVID-related deaths in NSW, and 531 since the start of the pandemic.

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