New South Wales has recorded 199 new cases of COVID-19 after more than 100,000 people came forward to be tested yesterday.
Of those cases, at least 50 were infectious in the community, 67 are household contacts and 21 are close contacts while the remaining 111 remain under investigation.
“We don’t know whether we’re through the worst of it or not with the case numbers and that’s our issue,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
“We don’t know if we’ve peaked or it’s going to get worse.”
Ms Berejiklian urged people who live in suburbs adjacent to the eight local government areas of concern to not go into them.
“If you live in suburbs adjoining those eight local government areas, please be extra, extra careful,” she said.
“Don’t go into those eight local government areas unless absolutely necessary.
“You might live in an adjoining suburbs and go shopping in those communities.
“Consider going elsewhere to make sure that the virus doesn’t spread into other communities.”
NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant also warned of the risk of coronavirus creeping from the high-risk LGAs into neighbouring suburbs.
She specifically mentioned Strathfield, Burwood, Camden, the inner-west, Penrith, Rockdale and Kogarah as areas where the virus had the potential to spread.
“We’re also asking that you don’t go into those suburbs, even if they’re within that permitted radius, to shop,” Dr Chant said.
“Go to a different shopping centre.”
Dr Chant said it was “tragic” that some elderly residents remain unvaccinated against the virus as the number of hospitalisation due to Delta continue to grow.
There are now 53 cases of coronavirus in the intensive care unit in NSW, 43 of whom have not received the vaccine.
“We have five cases in their 20s, six in their 30s, three in their 40s, 18 in their 50s, 11 in their 60s and 10 in their 70s,” NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said.
“Again, one dose of either vaccine is very effective and reducing hospitalisation. Two doses are best.”
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it was likely that NSW would reach a six million vaccine target by the end of the month.
“The vaccine is not just about keeping you out of hospital and keeping you safe but it’s reducing the spread of the virus,” she said.
Easing of restrictions dependant on vaccination rates
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said easing restrictions on August 29 would be reliant on both the number of coronavirus cases, and the number of people in the state vaccinated.
“The more of us that get vaccinated, the greater chance we have to live freely, beyond August 29,” she said.
“In particular, we will be focusing our efforts in those eight local government areas to make sure people have the opportunity to get vaccinated.”
Ms Berejiklian has flagged the possibility that vaccinated people may be granted greater freedoms.
She said the state was considering incentive programs to get more people vaccinated.
“We know if we encourage people to get vaccinated to provide them with additional freedoms – that is the best motivator of all.
“We believe, based on experience overseas and elsewhere, that allowing people additional movement or activity if they’ve been vaccinated, we think is a great incentive.”
But she said it was too early to introduce incentives immediately.
“That number of 50 infectious in the community – the closer that is to zero, the greater the freedom we’ll have, but the further away from zero it is, the less freedom we’ll have,” she said.
“We want to be as close to zero as possible.”
Aged care outbreak grows
An outbreak of COVID-19 at an aged care home in Sydney’s Inner West has grown with another resident testing positive overnight.
The resident at the Wyoming Nursing Home in Summer Hill has been vaccinated, according to a statement from the facility.
There is now a total of 21 people infected as a result of the cluster including 19 residents and two staff members.
“All 19 residents who have tested positive have been transferred to local hospitals, as have the other unaffected residents who live on the same floor,” the statement said.
“Meanwhile the two staff who have shown positive tests, continue to be in isolation.”
All close contacts of the staff have been contacted and are in isolation.
The facility remains in full lockdown, with daily testing and deep cleaning being undertaken to prevent any further spread.
The outbreak was initially reported to have begun after a “Christmas in July function” held at the facility.
However, the facility today said the function was “simply a normal lunch for residents, with Christmas decorations and carols being played”.
No need for supermarket policing
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said there wasn’t need for security guards or police to monitor behaviour in supermarkets to lower the risk of infection.
While supermarkets commonly show up as exposure sites, instances of infection there are rare.
“We have had transmission in a small number of supermarkets and that’s generally been when someone, one of the staff, have brought it in from community exposure,” Dr Chant said.
“We don’t actually think the large supermarkets are a great risk.”
Smaller shops pose a much greater risk of transmission, she said.
“The venues we’re concerned about are the smaller grocery shops,” Dr Chant said.
“We’re urging for those small businesses that they minimise the number in the shop.”
Ms Berejiklian said policing behaviour among supermarket shoppers only heightened risk of transmission.
“We want as little human contact as possible,” she said.
“So the QR codes are there for people to use them, but even having a concierge person is a risk.”
Plans for Sydney’s road out of lockdown
The easing of restrictions is part of a reported NSW Government plan for freedom, but it is yet to be formally announced.
The Premier wants to see at least 50 per cent of all adults get jabbed, with preference for 60 per cent and above.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro is tasked with preparing the road map out of lockdowns, the publication reports.
But epidemiologist expert Marylouise McLaws told Today restrictions need to be in place for some time to bring Sydney’s cases down.
“Well, it is too early to start lifting restrictions, far too early,” Professor McLaws said.
“We are still seeing, of those cases outside of the home, most of the cases are occurring in the workplace. Yet, we are not really doing enough to prevent that. And a simple measure to prevent that is to identify people at work before they go on to the work floor to find out whether they are positive and not every third day.
“We need to use the very, very best rapid antigen test and some of them are 99.9 per cent or 100 per cent active for labelling you negative and then you can go to work.
“So it is far too early to start even thinking about lifting restrictions. Because we are interconnected by work and, of course, there is delivery truck drivers. They haven’t had their vaccine yet.
“And they are really an essential service who could inadvertently spread it way across the Greater Sydney area.”
Gladys Berejiklian has previously hinted that once vaccination rates increase, more restrictions will be eased.
“Once you get to 50 per cent vaccination rates or 60 per cent vaccination rates, you can look to provide easing of restrictions, but that also depends on where the case numbers are at,” she said.
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant yesterday said it was too early to announce any change to the current lockdown, which is due to end on August 28.
“I don’t want to even think about what the situation will be at the end of August. It’s too premature. We’ve got four weeks, we need to give it our all,” she said. “We need to drive the numbers down. These are too high.”
Dozens of hospital staff now isolating
Westmead Hospital, in Sydney’s west, is the centre of a fresh virus scare with 36 staff sent into isolation overnight after their colleague caught the virus.
The fully-vaccinated staffer had been working in the ICU ward over three days.
In a statement, NSW Health said patient care had not been affected.
“Investigations into the source of the infection indicates that it was acquired in the community,” a spokesperson said.
“The affected areas have been deep cleaned and there has been no further transmission associated with this case to date.
“Our highest priority is always the safety of patients and our staff.”