New South Wales has recorded another nine COVID cases, with a record 60,000 test results returned statewide.
But despite the encouraging results, the troubling Northern Beaches cluster has now hit Queensland, with a case linked to the outbreak now quarantined in Brisbane.
A day after Premier Gladys Berejiklian said there would be no widespread relaxation of rules for the Christmas period, NSW’s daily number of community transmission ticked up slightly from the eight recorded on Wednesday. It’s the first time in four days that case numbers are higher than the previous day.
Seven of the cases are linked directly to the Avalon cluster, with two still under investigation. The Avalon cluster is now at 104 cases.
Another nine cases were recorded in NSW hotel quarantine.
NSW recorded nine locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night, with an additional nine cases in returned travellers in hotel quarantine. pic.twitter.com/GpIF3OBT1p
— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) December 24, 2020
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant predicted on Wednesday that people were “going to be stunned by the level of testing that we report” on Thursday. The number of tests recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm Wednesday was 60,184, the third day in the last four that NSW has set new state testing records.
“Can I firstly say how proud I am,” the Premier said.
“I nearly fell off my chair, literally, when we realised that 60,000 people came forward for testing.”
However, Ms Berejiklian and Dr Chant warned of a small number of infected people who have visited venues in the Sydney CBD.
- A second infection is thought to have occurred at the Paragon Hotel sports bar at Circular Quay on December 16. People who visited that area for more than an hour are being ordered to get tested and isolate for 14 days, regardless of result, while visitors for less than an hour are being asked to test and isolate until a negative result.
- A third worker who attended an office near Hunter and Bligh Street in the CBD has tested positive. Anyone in that north-eastern part of the city, near Australia Square and MLC Centre, is being asked to watch for the mildest of symptoms.
- Anyone who attended the Bondi Icebergs club on December 20 between 8-9.30am, and December 21 between 7-8am, is being asked to get tested and isolate immediately. NSW Health will contact those people later on Thursday for more information.
More information on latest venue alerts and advice is available on NSW Health’s website.
“We are far from out of the woods and in fact we have to be extra vigilant over the next few days,” the Premier said.
“We have to make sure we get tested with the onset of symptoms we have to make sure that if we are isolated then we stay in isolation. We need to make sure we don’t visit people in isolation and we also need to make sure that as much as possible, we reduce our mobility.”
“We don’t move around, we don’t do things unless we absolutely have to.”
Ms Berejiklian said Sydney Harbour’s iconic New Year’s Eve fireworks will go ahead, but NSW will wait until December 26 to make a decision on whether crowds will be allowed. She stopped short of cancelling the event, as the Australian Medical Association called for on Thursday, but urged people to instead watch the display on TV from home.
Northern Beaches cluster hits QLD
Queensland recorded no new locally acquired cases on Thursday, but two cases from interstate or overseas. One of those cases can be traced to the Northern Beaches, state Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.
The returned traveller initially tested negative, but following direction and re-testing, he returned a positive result.
Today's new cases:
• One case was acquired overseas and detected in hotel quarantine.
• One case was acquired interstate and detected in home quarantine.
— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) December 23, 2020
“He has been isolating himself in quarantine at home, which has significantly reduced any risk of spreading this to other people and this is the gold standard of what we expect of anyone who has travelled from the Northern Beaches and has been told to go into quarantine in Queensland,” Ms D’Ath told a press conference.
Ms D’Ath said 53 people in Queensland have been identified as close contacts to positive cases in the NSW outbreak.
“We believe that we have positive cases in Queensland,” she said.
The minister said Queensland was “relying on” those people to get tested and isolate.
State Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the second non-locally acquired case was a woman in her 20s, a crew member of a superyacht that recently arrived in Cairns from the Maldives.
All of the boat’s occupants and crew are now in hotel quarantine, Dr Young said. Ms D’Ath said the superyacht’s occupants were not co-operating with Queensland Police.
“We have very disappointed they are not cooperating and providing factual and correct information to the Queensland Police Service,” Ms D’arth said.
The cases come as Queensland marks 100 days without a case of community transmission.
More to come.