Well, we're back now with more on what health authorities have been working to avoid - growing number of COVID-positive patients in hospital, while millions of us across three states are in lockdown.
For more we're joined by Deputy Chief Health Officer Professor Michael Kidd in Canberra. Professor, good morning to you. Can we just work through some of these stats if we can this morning? We've got 142 COVID patients in hospital across the country, more than 20 in ICU. How much more dangerous is this Delta strain?
Well, certainly what we know about the Delta strain is that it is far more transmissible, and so it's more likely that people who come into contact with someone with the Delta strain of COVID-19 will be infected. And as we know, once we get serious numbers of people infected, we get a percentage of those people who become seriously unwell, and some of those people, of course, end up in hospital and gravely unwell and in intensive care units. So very concerned about the number of people who are in intensive care units at the moment. The difference, of course, between now and this time last year is we know a lot more about the management of people who have severe COVID-19 and intensivists and our ICU nurses are doing a fantastic job supporting those people.
We now have the supply of ventilators and whatnot too, which we didn't have last time around. But, I mean, our, our contact tracers at the moment seem to be pushed to their limits. When you're looking in NSW there are some instances where people are waiting five days for a test to come back. Are they really being pushed to the limit? And do they need more resources?
Yes, so there's two different issues there. Of course, one is the capacity for testing, and we have record numbers of tests being carried out every day, and a huge thank you to everybody who is lining up to get tested for COVID-19. And, and the other is the issue around the contact tracers, working around the clock to contact people and to talk to them about where they may have been, and looking for potential new exposure sites so that we can move towards bringing each of these outbreaks which are occurring in Australia under control as quickly as we possibly can.
The Commonwealth is supporting the contact tracing with additional contact tracers based here in Canberra, supporting our colleagues in, in New South Wales, and contact tracers in other parts of the country are assisting as well. So we have the capacity. One of the things is, if you do get contacted by one of the contact tracers, please answer the questions that they ask you and please treat them with the respect they deserve.
There's a great deal of anxiousness in the community, as you would know, across those three states, if not more. But particularly in New South Wales. When we hear things from different experts saying it could be from anywhere between another week and a half to another four or five weeks. When do we expect to get clarity on that? Because I do think that's important.
Yes, it is. It is important, and of course, we've been living with the disruption caused by COVID-19 for the last 18 months, which does have a significant impact on everyone's mental health and emotional wellbeing, and people do want answers. Unfortunately, we do have to follow much of this a day at a time. The good thing that we are seeing in New South Wales is we're not seeing a dramatic escalation of number of new cases each day, and indeed we saw a slight decline in the numbers reported yesterday.
And although there are some people who, when they are diagnosed, have been out in the community, many of the people diagnosed are household contacts and are already in isolation. And of course, if people are adhering to the restrictions which are in place, even if they have been out in the community, their contact with other people should have been very, very limited.
So as the restrictions really kick in, hopefully we'll see a further decline in that worrying number of people who've been out in the community at the time that they are diagnosed. And as that comes under control then we'll see a steady decline in new numbers.
Well let's hope that's reflected in the numbers today. Professor, thanks for your time this morning.