New South Wales has recorded 77 new cases of COVID-19 and one death in the past 24 hours to 8pm.
Of today’s 77 new cases, 42 were out in the community for all or part of their infectious period.
The results come from more than 48,000 tests – a number NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is urging residents to sustain in order to curb the spiralling outbreak.
But the sobering figures are unlikely to mark the peak of the outbreak, Ms Berejiklian has warned, saying she would “be shocked” if tomorrow’s figures were under 100.
“Tomorrow and the few days afterwards will be worse – much worse – than we’ve seen today,” she said.
“Given the number of people exposed in the community overnight, I’m anticipating the numbers in New South Wales will be greater than 100 tomorrow.”
In a sign that contact tracers are increasingly struggling to keep up with the pace of the growing outbreak, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said cases’ close contacts are continuing to spread the virus in the community before testing positive themselves.
“We need to get ahead of the spread,” she said.
“We need to ensure that we’ve stopped that chain of transmission so we’ve found all the cases, contained their contact, so that there’s no people infectious in the community.”
Ms Berejiklian and Dr Chant again urged people not to mix with other family members from separate households.
More than 50 of today’s new infections close family members of previous cases.
“When you get COVID, unfortunately those most impacted are those closest to you,” she said.
Dr Chant said that the “vast majority” of the new reported cases live in the south-west Sydney region – a number that is “extraordinarily high”.
“We know transmission is going through households, from household to household. And it’s impacting on other close friends and work colleagues,” she said.
Essential workers are emerging as a new concern for contact tracers, in particular tradies who may be visiting multiple worksites.
“We really need people who visit multiple sites for essential work, whether you’re an electrician or fixing essential services for people within homes or sites, we recommend strongly that you get tested immediately before you continue working,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Tragic death first to be recorded from Sydney cluster
A 90-year-old woman from Sydney’s south-west has died at Liverpool Hospital yesterday, just hours after testing positive to COVID-19.
She caught the infection from a family member within her household.
The woman was tested on Friday and returned a positive result early yesterday.
“Tragically we’ve seen one older person die and I want to extend my deepest condolences to their families and loved ones,” the premier said.
“I can’t stress enough that every time we risk breaking the rules or even just going about our business and not getting tested when we need to, the people whose lives and health that we’re risking the most are those closest to us.”
It is the first death to be recorded since the start of the Bondi outbreak last month.
Today’s COVID-19 case breakdown
While today’s new COVID-19 cases alone are ringing alarm bells for health authorities, it is the breakdown of the cases that have fuelled the premier’s warning that the worst is still ahead.
Of today’s 77 new cases, 55 are linked to a known case or cluster, including 39 household contacts and 16 close contacts.
This means the source of almost one-third of the new infections remains unknown.
Even more concerningly, well under half of today’s cases were in isolation throughout their infectious period.
Of today’s 77 cases:
- 32 were isolated throughout their infectious period
- 9 were isolated for part of their infectious period
- 33 were infectious in the community
- 3 remain under investigation
The number of people hospitalised with the virus is also on the rise, climbing to 42 today.
There are now 15 people in Intensive Care, and five of these people are being ventilated.
The outbreak stemming from a party at the Meriton Suites in Waterloo on June 26 – the first day of Greater Sydney’s lockdown – has continued to grow as close contacts test positive.
Eleven of today’s new cases have been linked to the party, bringing the cluster to 46 cases – from just seven people who caught their infection at the gathering.
New sewage alerts
In a possible sign of more missing links across Sydney, there have positive sewage detections across three Sydney treatment plants where no known cases of COVID-19 reside.
Fragments of COVID-19 have been found at sites at Castle Hill-Cattai, Penrith and Port Kembla. The three sites service more than 150,000 people across Sydney.
It is the third time that the Penrith site has had a positive detection, despite no known cases.
The sewage plant serves around 97,000 people across the following suburbs: Cambridge Gardens, Cambridge Park, Leonay, Emu Plains, Glenbrook, Penrith, South Penrith, Glenmore Park, Jamisontown, Regentville, Lapstone, Orchard Hills, Kingswood, Castlereagh, Cranebrook, Llandilo, Sun Valley, Mount Riverview, Emu Heights, Jordan Springs, Mulgoa, Warrimoo, Blaxland and Yellow Rock, as well as the Blue Mountains National Park.
The Castle Hill-Cattai sewage treatment plant serves approximately 8,400 people in suburbs including Glenhaven, Dural, Kenthurst, Kellyville and Castle Hill.
The Port Kembla sewage network serves about 49,000 people in suburbs including Windang, Lake Heights, Cringila, Warrawong, Koonawarra, Brownsville, Dapto, Berkeley, Kanahooka, Horsley, Avondale, Cleveland, Unanderra, Kembla Grange, Primbee and Port Kembla.
Fears of Victoria-style lockdown
New mask rules for apartment buildings
As well as additional restrictions around exercise and essential shopping introduced on Friday, requirements around mask wearing and restrictions on entering Greater Sydney are also being tightened.
From Tuesday July 13, masks will be compulsory inside residential buildings in all common property areas, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said yesterday.
This means those living in apartment blocks will need to put on a mask before entering the following common areas:
- a shared foyer or lobby of an apartment block
- lifts, stairwells and corridors
- shared laundry facilities
This applies to anyone entering the building, not just residents, and includes cleaners, tradespeople and anyone delivering goods.
Moreover, the reasons for entering Greater Sydney have been tightened.
Coming into the region for the purposes of exercise or outdoor recreation is no longer a valid excuse.
From today, people from outside Greater Sydney will only be able to enter for a funeral, memorial service or gathering afterwards if there are no more than 10 people in attendance.
Other states look to their borders
Other states are also looking to their borders, with Victoria yesterday issuing a final warning to its residents currently in regional New South Wales to return home.
Victoria’s COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar told NSW travellers they “should have left already”, warning that a hard border with the whole of the state was likely “in the coming hours or days”.