NSW announces eased restrictions for double-vaccinated, plus the other news stories to know today.

New freedoms announced for NSW double-vaccinated as case numbers surpass 1000. 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced a slight easing of restrictions as a reward for fully-vaccinated people. 

From September 13, households can sit in the park for an hour as all adults present are fully vaccinated for those who live in the LGAs of concern. 

For those who live outside the areas of concern, groups of five fully vaccinated people can gather outdoors within their 5km radius. 

A decision on vaccine incentives was long-promised to be doled out when the state reached six million COVID-19 vaccine doses, a milestone that was reached on Tuesday. 

About 60 per cent of NSW residents aged 16 or older have had at least one shot, with 32 per cent fully vaccinated.

When the state reaches 70 per cent full vaccination, Ms Berejiklian says "a range of family, industry, community and economic restrictions" will be lifted for people who are vaccinated. 

New South Wales has reported a record-high 1029 new local cases of COVID-19 and three new deaths to 8pm Wednesday night. 

Western NSW is the area of most concern, with the regional lockdown to be extended until at least September 10. 


"I am really bad." COVID-19 patients' plea from Sydney hospital beds. 

Three COVID-19 patients in Sydney’s Concord Hospital have described the physical and mental toll of being sick with the virus in an emotional video released by Sydney Local Health District. 

Single mum Romona, a 30-year-old pharmacy worker from Greenacre in the city's southwest has two children and contracted the virus from someone who didn't want to get a vaccination. 

"All I can think of are my children that I haven't seen in a very long time. I haven't been working. I'm a single mum. It's not easy," she said through tears. 

Watch the full video here. 

"It takes a toll on you physically and mentally this virus. I've had two kids. I've had a major operation. I've never had to recover or push myself to try to recover mentally this much. It's been crazy," she said.

Osama, a 35-year-old tradie from Lakemba, has been in hospital for more than a week and said at its worst he felt "close to death". His wife has been in ICU and his children are in Westmead Hospital - all with COVID-19. 


"Something had taken the lungs and it was harsh. There was fever, there were headaches. A combination of things you don't want to experience," he said.

Construction Worker Fawaz, 50, from Putney has six children and a wife. All have COVID, and one of his daughters is also in hospital.

“I don't know how I caught this virus and I'm not doing too well at the moment," he said, lying facedown on his hospital bed.

"Please get vaccinated. I wish I did beforehand. But I did book it in. It just wasn't meant to be. It's not a game," he said.

Australia sits on top of the Paralympic leader board after Day 1 in Tokyo.

Lakeisha Patterson's last-gasp gold medal on the opening night of the Paralympics has left the Australian swimmer "more fried than a chook from KFC".

Australia leads the medal tally after day one with six gold medals, including four in the pool and two in track cycling. 

Patterson held off a fierce challenge from Zsofia Konkoly - the Hungarian briefly took the lead on the last lap - to win the S9 400m freestyle final by just .08 of a second.

Will Martin broke the Paralympic record in the men's S9 400m freestyle final and Rowan Crothers took out the S10 50m freestyle.

Then Ben Popham won the last event of the night, bursting into tears when his blistering finish gave him the S8 100m freestyle gold.


Martin and Patterson won the first two swimming gold medals of the Games on Wednesday night at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

They emulated compatriots Paige Greco and Emily Petricola, who won the first two gold medals of the Tokyo Paralympics earlier at the Izu Velodrome.

Not everything went to plan for Australia on day one - the Steelers' shock 54-53 loss to Denmark put an early dent in their quest for a third-straight wheelchair rugby gold medal.

Japan also dominated their women's wheelchair basketball match against the Gliders, beating the Australian team 73-47.


PM preparing for cabinet meeting showdown.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has embarked on a major sales pitch to convince some state premiers uncomfortable with opening amid soaring caseloads.

"The government is standing with the states and territories to help them address this very cruel burden but we must proceed with the plan," he told parliament.

Federal, state and territory governments earlier in the month backed vaccine coverage targets of 70 and 80 per cent to reduce restrictions.

While lockdowns are not impossible when the higher threshold is reached, stay-at-home orders are likely to become rare and state borders expected to remain open.

A showdown is brewing ahead of Friday's national cabinet meeting which is also due to receive updated advice about vaccinating children.

The expert immunisation panel is due to deliver guidance on opening vaccines to all children aged 12 to 15.

Vaccine rollout co-ordinator John Frewen is looking at ways for families to be vaccinated together if the rollout age range is expanded.


"We are looking at a program where we might be able to book families in so that parents and kids can get done together, so we are working on a set of options at the moment," he told the ABC.

Lieutenant General Frewen is confident Australia will have enough vaccines to include under-16s in the program.

He also floated school-based vaccination as a potential future step.

Queensland meanwhile, has closed its border to all travellers from hotspots across Australia for the next two weeks to relieve pressure on the state's overwhelmed hotel quarantine system.

Virus-stricken Vic town cries out for help.

A regional Victorian town is crying out for more help after a COVID-19 cluster forced local supermarket staff into isolation, limiting access to essential supplies.

The outbreak in Shepparton, about 180km north of Melbourne, has grown to 50 cases and forced an estimated 17,000 residents to isolate.

Many supermarkets have closed for cleaning after being listed as exposure sites, including a large IGA in the town's north.

Coles stores in Shepparton, Mooroopna and Shepparton South are also operating on reduced hours due to staff availability, while some home delivery and click-and-collect orders have been cancelled in recent days.

"We need help," read a front-page splash in the city's local newspaper on Wednesday.


It comes as health authorities warn Victorians are still taking too long to get tested, with mystery cases continuing to pile up.

Of the 45 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases reported on Wednesday, 28 people were out in the community while infectious. The source of infection remains under investigation for nine of these new cases.

Meanwhile, more than 95,000 Victorians booked vaccine appointments at state-run hubs to 4pm on Wednesday, despite the online system being overwhelmed as Pfizer eligibility expanded to those aged 16 to 39.

ACT looking to tweak COVID restrictions.

Canberra won't come out of lockdown early, but the ACT could tweak restrictions as its coronavirus outbreak grows to 176 cases.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has ruled out ending the lockdown before September 2, but flagged changes to be announced before the weekend. 

Whether the lockdown drags on depends on the number of people infectious in the community and whether cases can be linked.

"We will come out of this gently, week-by-week as we continue to get our vaccination rate up," Mr Barr told reporters.


Canberra reported nine new infections on Wednesday. Of these, eight were linked and four in the community while infectious. 

A person with a disability was among the new cases, taking the number of cases in that sector to 18.

High numbers of babies passed to troops in Kabul.

A British Army surgeon has told of how he used his experience as a new father to settle a baby passed over a wall to troops in Kabul, amid an "unexpectedly high number" of children handed over to troops.

Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Caesar, a trauma and orthopaedic surgeon from 16 Medical Regiment, Royal Army Medical Corps, has been working in a hospital set up for injured personnel and Afghans going through the evacuation process at Kabul airport.

And he said the injuries he had been treating ranged from gunshot injuries, flashbang injuries, and people who have been crushed in the crowd, to those who had run out of medication and those suffering in the heat.

"There have also been an unexpectedly high number of children being passed to us and being dealt with by the hospital," Lt Col Caesar said.

Western nations are rushing to evacuate people from Afghanistan with less than a week left until all foreign troops leave, acknowledging that many Afghans who helped them will be left behind to an uncertain fate under the Taliban.

Although the airlift is due to last until Tuesday, the United States military said on Wednesday it would shift its focus in the final two days from assisting fleeing civilians to evacuating its own troops.


The UN human rights chief said she had received credible reports of serious violations by the Taliban, including "summary executions" of civilians and Afghan security forces who had surrendered. The Taliban have said they will investigate reports of atrocities.

The United Nations itself leaves behind around 3,000 Afghan staff at its mission. The Taliban have said they will respect human rights including those of women, and not allow terrorists to operate from the country.

"Every woman I know has the same fear as I do. What will now happen to our children if we are punished for our work? What will happen to our families? What will they do to us as women?" an Afghan woman who has worked for the United Nations for several years told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Nirvana baby sues for sexual exploitation.

The baby who featured on the famed cover of Nirvana's 1991 Nevermind album - who is now 30 - has sued the band for alleged child sexual exploitation.

Spencer Elden was four months old when he was pictured in a pool at a swimming centre in Pasadena, California.

Elden has now sued the group, the photographer who took the picture, their record label and the individual members - including the estate of late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain - alleging the picture constitutes child pornography as it shows his genitalia.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in California on Wednesday, claims the defendants "failed to take reasonable steps to protect Spencer and prevent his widespread sexual exploitation and image trafficking".

As a result, it is alleged, Elden "has suffered and will continue to suffer lifelong damages".

Around the world.

- 36 people have been shot dead in a barbaric night attack on a Nigerian village, an area hit by repeated ethnic clashes. 

The whole of Nigeria has been experiencing an upsurge of violence this year, with abductions for ransom and armed robberies commonplace in several states.

The underlying cause of much of the tension is poverty which intensifies competition for resources and jobs and, in the Middle Belt, exacerbates a complex inter-section of ethnic and religious rivalries.

- Japan has expanded its coronavirus state of emergency for a second week in a row, adding eight more prefectures as a surge in infections fuelled by the Delta variant strains the country's health care system.

- With AAP

Feature image: Sydney Local Health District/Naomi Baker/Getty/Nirvana.