News NSW records eight new COVID cases as face mask rules come into force
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NSW records eight new COVID cases as face mask rules come into force

NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant. Photo: AAP
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Another eight locally acquired cases of COVID have been recorded in New South Wales, with the state preparing to enforce its first mandatory face mask rules from midnight tonight.

Five of the cases are linked to the growing Berala cluster in Sydney’s south-west, which NSW Health has linked through genomic testing to a previous case of a transport driver who took international arrivals from the airport to hotel quarantine.

Another two of Sunday’s cases are linked to the Avalon cluster, and one is a contact of a previous case in Wollongong. An additional three cases were recorded in hotel quarantine.

The eight cases, compared to seven the previous day, come from 18,900 tests. Acting premier John Barilaro said the state government wanted to see that number at between 20,000 and 30,000 tests each day, and urged NSW residents to keep getting tested.

“We do need to increase that number of testing,” Mr Barilaro said Sunday.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is taking a week of leave.

NSW chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said the Berala cluster was a growing worry. Of great concern is the fact that three employees at a BWS bottle shop at Woodburn Road had contracted the virus, and that customers had contracted the virus from “very brief exposures” at that site.

Dr Chant said NSW Health was issuing broad advisories to get tested and isolate for 14 days for people who had visited the store between December 22 and 31. More information has been posted on the NSW Health website., with thousands of people already caught up and asked to isolate for a fortnight.

“Anyone who attended the store for any period of time on the above dates and the times listed on the NSW Government website is now considered a close contact,” NSW Health warned.

“They must immediately get tested and self-isolate for 14 days from the last date of exposure, regardless of whether a negative result is received.”

John Barilaro and Brad Hazzard. Photo: AAP

Some 2000 people have already been contacted and told to isolate, Dr Chant said, with anyone else living in those households also obligated to do the same.

Dr Chant also shared new details which link the Berala cluster to a case announced several weeks ago, of a driver who had contracted COVID after transporting airport arrivals to hotel quarantine.

“The Berala cluster is actually the same genomic sequences as linked to our patient transport driver, not the Avalon cluster,” she said.

“We had a family group who had returned from overseas and were transported to a health facility. Unfortunately one of the patient transport workers acquired infection, passed it on to a colleague, that colleague had been at the Berala BWS for a very fleeting amount of time, but what we now know is that transmission occurred.”

 

It comes as Victoria announced three new virus cases on Sunday, all linked to the Black Rock restaurant cluster. That cluster, VIC health authorities say, has in turn been linked back to the NSW outbreak.

Greater Sydney’s new mandatory mask rules are now in effect, and police will begin actually enforcing the restrictions with potential $200 fines from Monday.

NSW Police said that the fines will be a “last resort”, with “discretion” and “common sense” to be applied.

Health minister Brad Hazzard also expanded the list of indoor and crowded spaces where masks would be enforced, to include banks, post offices, hair and beauty salons, spas, tattoo parlours and betting agencies. He also added people should wear masks while queueing or waiting for public transport.