Australia

NSW braces for a rise in COVID-19 numbers after 124 new local infections recorded

Four weeks since the New South Wales government locked down four Sydney local government areas, the state is bracing for daily coronavirus case numbers to exceed the outbreak high of 124.

“We anticipate case numbers will continue to go up before they start coming down and we need to brace ourselves for that,” Ms Berejiklian said on Thursday.

The lockdown of Greater Sydney was extended to 30 July. 

But with the government aiming to get the number of people infectious in the community as close to zero as possible, stay-at-home orders are not likely to lift that soon.

Of the 124 cases recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday, at least 70 were active in the community for some or all of their infectious period.

NSW Health on Thursday evening published a new list of exposure sites, including places where staff appeared to have worked while infectious.

A Campsie supermarket is listed as a close contact venue for 33 hours over three days at the end of last week. A Marrickville factory is a venue of concern for long spells over four days as well.

The lockdown now extends beyond Sydney and surrounds to Orange and other areas in the state’s central west. Stay-at-home orders will be in place there for at least a week, but no further exposure sites were added in the area on Thursday evening.

NSW Health said late on Thursday that fragments of the virus had been detected at the sewage treatment plant that served Byron Bay, Wategos, Suffolk Park, Sunrise and Broken Head.

“There are no known cases in this area, which is of great concern”, it said, urging people in those areas to be vigilant for virus symptoms and if they appear to get tested and isolate until a negative test is received.

The health department also quashed “false reports” circulating on social media that supermarkets would be closed for four days next week, saying that was not the case.

NSW has recorded 1,648 local cases since the current outbreak began on 16 June with the case of an unvaccinated limousine driver.

As infection numbers have risen for the past two days, the premier has reiterated that the impact of heightened restrictions announced on Saturday won’t be seen until this weekend at the earliest.

She refused to be drawn on what her government would do if even shutting down construction and the other harsh new measures did not push case numbers down.

“I never want to deal in hypotheticals,” Ms Berejiklian said on Thursday.

She said the state had to accept that the numbers may keep going up, but added they would have ballooned to the thousands if extra restrictions had not been imposed.

Ms Berejiklian will on Friday attend a national cabinet meeting where she and other leaders will be briefed on the latest element of the vaccine strategy, including future supply.

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