New South Wales has recorded 98 community cases of Covid-19, with 20 of those cases infectious while in the community.
Of the new cases, 61 are linked to a known case or cluster – 43 are household contacts and 18 are close contacts – and the source of infection for 37 cases is under investigation.
The new cases take the total number of infections in Sydney’s latest outbreak to 1340.
In NSW there are currently 82 people infected with Covid-19 admitted to hospital, with 24 people in intensive care – seven of whom require ventilation.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has urged residents across Greater Sydney to adhere to even harsher new lockdown measures as the state seeks to halt the spread of the virus.
On Sunday, NSW recorded 105 community cases of coronavirus and one death. Of those cases, 27were active in the community while infectious. It was those numbers that continue to worry the government the most, Berejiklian said.
“We need to get ahead of that number in order to reduce the cases in the community and the closer we get that number to zero, the sooner we can end the lockdown,” she said.
Sunday’s figures came as Greater Sydney, including residents in the Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool local government areas, entered the toughest restrictions in the state of the entire pandemic.
People in those areas are only permitted to leave their homes for four essential reasons: shopping for food or other essential goods and services; medical care or compassionate needs, including getting a Covid-19 vaccine; exercise outdoors in groups of two, who cannot travel further than 10km; essential work, or education, where people cannot work or study from home.
“We know these are difficult times but we also know that when we come together we can achieve what we need to achieve,” Berejiklian said yesterday.
“We are throwing everything at this. We want to come out of this lockdown as soon as possible. We want to make sure that we allow families and businesses in particular to bounce back as soon as we can and that is why we are throwing everything at it in the next two weeks.”
Most retail premises were also required to close and all non-urgent construction was paused. Employers must now allow employees to work from home if they are able, and failure to do so can result in a fine of up to A$10,000.
While Sydney’s outbreak may have started in the eastern suburbs, it’s now taken hold in the Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool local government areas.
Under the new restrictions, the only people who are able to leave those areas for work are essential health and emergency services workers. Even then, those workers are required to get a Covid-19 test every three days, regardless of whether they have symptoms.
Brejiklian said today she believes the numbers will soon come down but suggested it may take a few days to see a change in the outbreak’s trajectory.
“I am convinced if we work together, we will see that number go down,” she said. “We will not see the effect of the harsh restrictions for another four or five days, but I know they are there.”
Delta rewriting the rules
Melbourne University clinical epidemiologist Professor Nancy Baxter has warned the emergence of the Delta variant in Australia is rewriting the rules for how states respond to new outbreaks.
“It’s just so hard to get on top of Delta,” Baxter said. “By the time they identify the first case, the contacts of their contacts would already be positive.”
Baxter said some people with Delta test positive in as little as a day, compared to up to five days for the original strain of Covid-19, and in that time have already given it to the next ring of contacts before contact tracers can identify them.
“It’s very difficult to get on top of it without the so-called circuit breaker lockdown that allows contact tracers more time to do their job,” she said.
It’s likely the highly infectious nature of the Delta variant will mean Australians will have to live with some restrictions until enough of the population is vaccinated, Baxter said.
“It was great two months ago, we were all going out and the streets were crowded,” Baxter said. “It was good before the forced lockdown but I don’t think we can go back to that. We need to live as if Covid exists until we’re vaccinated, otherwise we’ll be in lockdown after lockdown after lockdown.”
Baxter’s comments echo those made by infectious diseases expert Professor Peter Collignon of Australian National University, who warned last month that residents may have to live with ongoing restrictions during winter while the virus is more active.
“My view is we need restrictions even in areas that don’t have outbreaks in winter,” he told news.com.au. “For the next few months, because it is winter and we are not vaccinated, we need to wear more restrictions for a while.”
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