News Coronavirus ‘It is working’: Premier’s optimism despite rise in NSW infections

‘It is working’: Premier’s optimism despite rise in NSW infections

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There were 22 more local COVID cases across NSW on day four of the Sydney lockdown. Photo: Getty
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NSW’s coronavirus outbreak has topped 170 cases, with 22 more local infections confirmed on Wednesday.

They came from 68,000 COVID tests in the previous 24-hour period.

Eleven were in isolation during their infectious period, with five isolated for part of that time.

They bring the outbreak that started in Bondi two weeks ago to 171 cases.

“NSW is demonstrating a steady rate of cases at this stage. To date our fears about huge escalation haven’t materialised and we certainly want to keep it that way,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

“I just want to urge all of our citizens to keep doing the right thing because it is working.”

NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant revealed an additional mystery case was confirmed late on Tuesday night, to be included in Thursday’s number.

She said a student nurse had tested positive for COVID-19 after working at two hospitals while infectious over five days.

“We know that the student nurse worked whilst infectious on a number of days,” Dr Chant said.

“The wards that that staff member worked at have been locked down, so that’s not taking any additional patients. We have also followed up any patients that have been discharged from those wards. We are also arranging testing for any staff that may have come in contact.”

The 24-year-old nurse worked in the rehabilitation ward at Fairfield Hospital and at a cardiology ward and a general abdominal surgery ward at the Royal North Shore Hospital.

Across NSW, venues of concern also bumped up on Tuesday and Wednesday. Among the 28 added were a Fitness First gym, a Bunnings and two busy bus routes, forcing even more residents into isolation.

Recent cases in NSW include a virus-infected employee at the Bunnings in Ashfield, who worked on June 24, greeting customers and on the service desk.

“Whilst venues of concern have increased overnight, we are also expecting that to taper off because if you look at the dates when that exposure occurred it was before we went into lockdown,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Other venues singled out by NSW authorities on Wednesday included:

  • The Crossways Hotel, Strathfield South – anyone there from June 23-27 must isolate and get a COVID test;
  • Cristo Pizza, Paddington – four linked cases;
  • Doncaster Hotel, Kensington – additional cases in staff;
  • Auburn Central – anyone there on June 28 must isolated and get tested.

NSW will mandate QR check-in codes through the Services NSW app for a host of businesses from July 12.

Wednesday is the fourth day of lockdown for millions of residents of greater Sydney, Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour regions.

Earlier Dr Chant said case numbers should soon start to fall, if people followed the lockdown rules.

“I’m hoping that towards the end of the week we start to see a decline in case numbers,” she told radio 2GB on Wednesday.

“But this really depends on how the community and businesses respond to our request to minimise those interactions and make sure they’re COVID-safe.”

State Agriculture Minister, Adam Marshall, is one of the four cases linked to the Paddington pizzeria.

Mr Marshall said he would be keen to get any available vaccine rather than wait for Pfizer, after Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement that under-40s can ask their GPs for AstraZeneca.

The 35-year-old told Channel Nine on Wednesday that his illness has been “debilitating and quite eye-opening”.

“I’m very interested in the Prime Minister’s announcement … and I’m looking to get information,” he said.

“The rollout’s been an absolute shambles, to be honest … we’ve got to pick up our game.”

Dr Chant stopped short of recommending younger people seek out AstraZeneca.

“Certainly I’m very committed to following the [Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation] advice,” she said.

Mr Morrison’s snap decision on Monday to allow under-40s access to AstraZeneca contradicted official advice from ATAGI, which recommends AstraZeneca be available only to people over 60.

Dr Chant urged those who’ve had their first AstraZeneca shot to get their second.

She said younger people should discuss the matter with their GPs. But GPs may well prioritise the elderly, she said.

Ms Berejiklian said NSW would continue to offer AstraZeneca to people over 60, and to anyone who had had a first shot.

“I won’t comment beyond that but to say that if you’re under 60 and you want the AstraZeneca, you should have a conversation with your GP. What the NSW government will continue to do is follow the health advice of the federal regulators,” she said.

Meanwhile, NSW has tightened the rules for people travelling into the state if they have visited other regions.

NSW Health said people from areas in the Northern Territory, Queensland, and Western Australia now subject to stay-at-home rules should not travel to the state unless permitted to do so.

From Wednesday, anyone coming to NSW who has been in those areas in the previous 14 days must complete a declaration form. This is the same requirement already in place for people who have been in Victoria in the previous 14 days.

-with AAP