New research from Sydney University has found the daily COVID numbers for Greater Sydney will continue to rise, peaking between 1500 and 6000 cases by October under the current settings.

The study found the daily numbers could spike up to 40,000 if the current restrictions are lifted.

The complex modelling was led by Professor Mikhail Prokopenko, Director of the University of Sydney’s Centre for Complex Systems, who used data available until August 25.

The total number of Australians infected in the month following reopening may exceed half a million, even with continued testing, tracing, isolation, quarantine and international travel restrictions.

Consistent adherence to social distancing is important

Professor Prokopenko said: “Our extended projections suggest that Delta cases will initially peak in early October and will begin to drop off as more of the population is vaccinated. However, consistent adherence to social distancing is important to prevent a sharp peak in cases.”

“Although it is encouraging that more people are being vaccinated, we can expect to see a rapid increase in cases when we exit the lockdown. In fact, our modelling suggests the worst is yet to come if the restrictions are removed too soon and too abruptly,” he added.

Professor Prokopenko said pandemic growth is expected to slow from mid-December, when 75 percent of the population is projected to be vaccinated and natural immunity will be developed by three to five percent of the entire population by the end of the year.

Explaining further, Professor Prokopenko said: “The clear take away is this – with increasing vaccinations there is a path out of the current outbreak, but as a society we can either choose to land softly or come to a dramatic crash landing.,”

“This will depend on the community continuing its high vaccine uptake, people maintaining social distancing over the coming months, and our healthcare system preparing and bolstering itself to meet the surge of hospitalisations which will come after the lockdown.

“Although the current situation is frustrating, the lockdown end is now in sight, and we must not lose our focus until it is safe to do so. As Mahatma Gandhi famously asserted, `to lose patience is to lose the battle’ – this is a warning we must now all heed,” he added.

Some restrictions to stay after vaccination target reached

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has pledged to keep some restrictions in place even after the 80 percent vaccination threshold is reached.

Dr Kerry Chant said earlier this week that mask wearing might remain “for years.”

It comes as NSW has reached new COVID-19 records with over 1000 cases recorded on Thursday.

Easing of some restrictions if you’re vaccinated

Despite the spike in infections, Berejiklian has announced a range of eased restrictions for those who are vaccinated surrounding outdoor gatherings which will come into effect on September 13.

She added people need to get ready for when we reach the 70 percent vaccinated target and more restrictions will ease, but “…the condition of you participating in what will be reopening is on you being vaccinated. Because when you start opening at 70 per cent, there are certain activities only vaccinated people can do.”

Those who live outside of the LGAs of concern will be allowed to have outdoor gatherings of up to five people, including children, so long as all adults are fully vaccinated. The gathering must occur within their LGA or within 5km from home.

For those who live in the LGAs of concern, households with all adults vaccinated will be able to gather outdoors for recreation, including picnics, within the existing rules. This means for one hour only, outside curfew hours and within 5km of home. This is in addition to the one hour allowed for exercise.

Photo: Getty Images

This article first appeared on Over60.