NSW authorities have issued health warnings for a host of Sydney venues and some of its busiest public transport routes, as community transmission of the coronavirus spikes.
NSW Health confirmed five new locally acquired COVID-19 cases on Friday, all linked to known sources.
There were also five more infections among returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
The renewed concern in NSW came as Victoria reported 11 more cases, and a second consecutive day without COVID fatalities. Stamping out the deadly outbreak that has crippled Victoria is proving difficult, with the state facing an uphill battle to meet its targets to reopen.
“We have seen a bit of a plateauing in recent days and I am as frustrated as anyone but the underlying trend will get us there,” chief health officer Brett Sutton said on Friday.
“We will have fewer and fewer outbreaks emerge and … the good news is that getting on top of those outbreaks means that the really hard to shift numbers are only two or three per day.”
Victoria is battling two concerning coronavirus outbreaks, one linked to a busy hospital in Melbourne’s east.
- See a full is of the latest high-risk Victorian locations here
The cluster at Box Hill Hospital includes staff and patients, and contact tracers have been deployed.
“We will get on top of it but it is a measure of the risk in any health setting,” Professor Sutton said.
The other worrying outbreak is linked to the Butcher Club at Chadstone Shopping Centre, which has infected 32 people and spread to Frankston in the south-east and the regional town of Kilmore.
Hundreds of people have been tested in Kilmore – 60 kilometres north of Melbourne – this week. One new case was added to the outbreak on Friday, a close contact of a worker at the cafe where the cluster began.
The recent cases have made it difficult for Melbourne to reach its target of a 14-day average of fewer than five cases by October 19. On Friday, that figure was 9.4.
But Professor Sutton said while the outbreaks remained concerning, Melbourne’s “underlying trend” was good.
“We always think about that downstream risk of further spread, but knowing where the additional cases have come from, having them linked to those existing known cases and known outbreaks is, of course, reassuring,” he said.
“It gives us a sense that there is a significant amount of control. But whenever there are active cases, whenever there are active outbreaks, there is that risk of further spread.”
NSW community spread
Four of the new local cases confirmed in NSW on Friday have been linked to a private health clinic cluster.
Three are household contacts of a case reported on Thursday, while the last is a co-worker from another clinic of the same provider.
NSW Health said the fifth new local infection was most likely an old case acquired in August and could be linked to the Liverpool Hospital cluster.
Nearly 13,000 people were tested across NSW on Thursday.
NSW Health is also working with the Monopole Restaurant in Sydney’s Potts Point to contact patrons and staff who might have been exposed to the virus when an infected person visited from 6-8pm on Sunday, October 4.
It has also issued a string of alerts for bus and train routes across Sydney:
- Train from Parramatta at 14.41 arriving Town Hall 15.31, October 4;
- Train from Town Hall at 17.29 arriving Kings Cross 17.50, October 4;
- Train from Artarmon at 23.18 arriving Central 23.48, October 5
- Bus replacement from Central at 23.48 arriving Strathfield 00.15, October 5;
- Train from Strathfield at 00.15 arriving Parramatta 00.45, October 5;
- Bus 550 from Epping Station, Beecroft Road, Stand D at 17.08 to Smith St after Phillip Street, Parramatta 17.41, October 6;
- Train from Moss Vale 04.52 arriving Liverpool 07.09, October 6;
- Train from Liverpool 16.58 arriving Moss Vale 19.12, October 6;
- Train from Moss Vale 04.51 arriving Liverpool 07.08, October 7;
- Train from Campbelltown 13.31 arriving Moss Vale 15.50, October 7.
Anyone who has travelled on those services is considered a casual contact and must monitor for symptoms and get tested immediately if they develop. After testing, they must remain in isolation until they get a negative test result.
- See a full list of the latest NSW venues of concern here
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Friday she was still looking at what social distancing restrictions could be eased in NSW, despite this week’s resurgence in locally acquired infections.
“The advice we get from health is always evolving depending on where we are in the pandemic,” she said.
“I’m always concerned when we have new cases of community transmission, [but] it shouldn’t preclude us looking at what opportunities we have in the next few weeks.”
NSW Health authorities also found a new infection on board a ship that travelled from Brisbane to Newcastle with international mariners onboard this week.
Chief health officer Kerry Chant said 14 crew members were swabbed on Thursday and one tested positive for COVID-19.
Dr Chant said the ship posed no risk to the community and would remain docked in Newcastle while further testing was completed.