NSW has reported 345 new local COVID-19 cases, as the Bayside, Strathfield and Burwood local government areas in Sydney are moved under stricter restrictions.
From 5pm on Thursday, only authorised workers will be allowed to leave these local government areas for work.
“In relation to Bayside, the suburbs of particular concern are Bexley, Banksia and Rockdale, where additional cases have been identified overnight, so if you live in those suburbs in particular, please come forward and get tested,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
Two men in their 90s have died after testing positive to the virus: one had received one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and the other had received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
The Premier warned the front of Sydney’s outbreak had moved into the Cumberland local government area in the city’s west, asking people in Merrylands, Auburn and Granville to be particularly alert to symptoms.
She said people in the Inner West and Camden areas should be on “extra alert” as their councils might be brought under the authorised worker restrictions if high case numbers continued.
At least 91 people were in the community for part of their infectious period and the isolation status of 138 cases remains under investigation. A record 151,830 tests were recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday.
NSW Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Marianne Gale provided some more details about the men who died.
- One acquired his infection at Liverpool Hospital, in Sydney’s south-west. He is the seventh patient at the hospital to die following an outbreak in its geriatric and neurology wards. He had received one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
- The other acquired his infection in the Wyoming Summer Hill aged care outbreak. He was receiving treatment at Royal North Shore Hospital after all patients were transferred to a variety of hospitals across the Sydney region. He was fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine.
There are 374 COVID-19 cases in NSW’s hospitals including 62 people in intensive care. Twenty-nine require ventilation. Dr Gale said 10 of the ICU cases were under 40.
Ms Berejiklian said she suspects NSW Police will ask for more Australian Defence Force support, including in assisting compliance efforts and administering vaccinations.
The Premier said she understood a request by her government had been made for ADF to staff additional AstraZeneca clinics.
“We want to make sure we have enough points of access across all of NSW and, in particular, in and around those areas of concern,” she said.
On Wednesday, it was announced NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller would lead a crackdown on people ignoring public health orders in Sydney.
NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Mick Willing said on Thursday that the Commissioner was working with government officials and regional commanders across the state and would present a plan back to crisis cabinet on Friday afternoon.
Mr Willing said “emergency management arrangements” had been established in western NSW for its lockdown.
In an appearance on 2GB radio this morning, Ms Berejiklian declined to answer whether she regretted not implementing a stricter localised lockdown of Sydney’s eastern suburbs when Greater Sydney entered stay-at-home orders in late June.
“I wish everything was a yes or a no but all you can do is make the best decisions at the time,” she said. “At the time [June 25] we had 11 cases, and then it went to 17 overnight, and then we put the whole of Greater Sydney into lockdown [on June 26].”
She said health authorities had learnt the Delta strain of COVID-19 “moves differently in different communities” in NSW.
The Premier said the moratorium on evictions for retail and commercial tenancies would “absolutely” be extended beyond August 20 and she expected the Service NSW backlog of financial assistance for businesses to be resolved by next week.
The regional towns of Bogan, Bourke, Brewarrina, Coonamble, Gilgandra, Narromine, Walgett and Warren entered lockdown at 7pm on Wednesday after Western NSW Local Health District confirmed a person in the Walgett community, who had recently been in Dubbo and Bathurst, tested positive for COVID-19.
A Corrective Services NSW spokesperson said the 27-year-old man arrived at Bathurst Correctional Centre about 4pm on Saturday and was released on bail on Monday. The facility has been locked down.
The newly locked down areas, some of which have high Indigenous populations, join Greater Sydney, as well as Dubbo, Tamworth, Northern Rivers, Armidale, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Port Stephens, Singleton, Dungog, Muswellbrook and Cessnock under stay-at-home orders.
Orana Heights Public School in Dubbo has closed “effective immediately” after a student tested positive to COVID-19.
Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said national experts were watching the outbreak in regional NSW closely and vaccines were being redirected.
“This is a very concerning issue. We have been extremely successful as a nation, in stark contrast to many other similar countries, in protecting our First Nations people right up to now,” Professor Kelly told the ABC’s Radio National on Thursday morning.
Late on Wednesday night, NSW Health published a number of venues of concern linked to COVID-19 cases in the Sydney, Dubbo and Lake Macquarie regions.
Multiple return bus journeys, taken this month, on Sydney’s 941, 913, 320, 422 and 438 bus routes were also listed.
Canberra will enter a seven-day lockdown from 5pm on Thursday after the result of a positive COVID-19 case, who has been infectious while in the community.
ACT Health has confirmed the virus is present in the region for the first time in 12 months through positive wastewater detection. Authorities do not know the source of the infection.
It will be the first time the ACT has entered a lockdown of this nature since the early days of the pandemic.
Twenty-one new local COVID-19 cases were reported in Victoria on Thursday, four of whom have no known source. Fifteen were in quarantine throughout their infectious periods.
Queensland recorded 10 new local cases on Thursday, all linked to the Indooroopilly cluster.
With Roy Ward, Rob Harris
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Mary Ward is a health reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.
Sarah McPhee is a breaking news reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.
Source: NSW – aged care deaths