CANBERRA, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- The head of Australia's coronavirus task force has praised the COVID-19 vaccine uptake as the country continues to battle the third wave of infections.
Lieutenant General John Frewen, the National COVID-19 Taskforce Coordinator, said that Australia is setting new COVID-19 vaccination records "almost every day" as the rollout continues to accelerate.
"As of Saturday, our first-dose nationwide vaccination rate was 71.2 percent and for second doses it was 46.2 percent. Approximately 24.3 million vaccine doses had been administered across the country," he wrote in a column for News Corp Australia on Sunday.
"If we can hit the 70 and 80 percent double-dose vaccination marks nationwide, and in every state and territory, we can start to open up the country with less likelihood of us having to go back into lockdowns."
On Sunday morning, there were more than 1,600 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 reported across Australia.
New South Wales (NSW), Australia's most populous state with Sydney as the capital city, reported 1,083 new cases and 13 deaths.
"There have been 241 COVID-19 related deaths in NSW since 16 June 2021," said the statement from NSW Health.
Victoria, the second-most populous state with Melbourne as the capital city, reported a further 507 new local cases.
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) recorded 17 new cases on Sunday, taking the number of active cases in the nation's capital to 242.