NSW has confirmed 345 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, and two further virus-related deaths on Thursday, as authorities also confirmed tougher restrictions for three Sydney local government areas.
Both of Thursday’s deaths were men aged in their 90s.
One had received a single shot of AstraZeneca and the other was fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine.
Deputy chief health officer Marianne Gale said one of the men had caught the virus at Liverpool Hospital. He is the seventh fatality associated with the cluster.
“The second case is a man in his 90s who died at Royal North Shore hospital. He was a resident of Wyoming residential aged-care facility in Summer Hill,” she said.
Of the latest cases, 91 spent at least part of their infectious period in the community. The isolation status of a further 138 remains under investigation.
As the virus continues to spread across Sydney, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the local government areas of Bayside, Strathfield and Burwood would face harsher restrictions akin to those in west and south-west Sydney.
Cases have been increasing in all three areas, with the biggest jump in Bayside LGA, which includes suburbs such as Bardwell Park, Mascot and Bexley.
From 5pm Thursday, people in the three LGAs must stay within five kilometres of their homes, including for buying food and other essential supplies and for exercise.
They can only leave their area even for work if they are an authorised worker.
Ms Berejiklian said she didn’t want to see more LGAs subject the toughest virus measures, but needed to prevent cases “taking off” in the Inner West, Bayside and Burwood LGAs.
“[NSW] Health may very well say to government today, tomorrow or the next day, as a precaution we want you to lock down,” she said.
Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne has told the ABC that if data was already showing cases rising in his area, more were likely due to the lag between incubation and symptoms.
There are now 12 council areas under the harsher restrictions.
Ms Berejiklian has also flagged tougher compliance measures in NSW as the virus seeps into the regions.
She said NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller was working with health officials on a range of measures to let the government know “what he needs to clamp down on compliance”.
A NSW crisis cabinet meeting on Wednesday night reportedly adopted tough new measures to close loopholes that saw people travelling out of Sydney, allowing the virus to enter the regions.
On Wednesday, a 52-year-old Sydney man was charged at Lismore Hospital with breaching public health orders after travelling to Byron Bay on the north coast while COVID positive, plunging the region into lockdown on Monday.
There were no new cases in Armidale, Tamworth or the Northern Rivers on Thursday, which Ms Berejiklian said was a positive sign.
“Unfortunately, the same isn’t the case for Hunter and New England where there has been a number of cases overnight,” she said.
The Hunter region’s snap lockdown – which had been due to end on Thursday – has been extended for a further week.
There were also five new cases in Dubbo overnight. Dubbo began a seven-day lockdown on Wednesday.