There is fresh concern about the spread of coronavirus in NSW after 24 new cases on Thursday – many of whom were not isolating while infectious.
Of the latest cases, only 17 are linked to existing outbreaks in the state and Premier Gladys Berejiklian admitted the virus was “continuing to circulate” in the community, despite a 14-day lockdown.
The Bondi cluster at the centre of Sydney’s outbreak now numbers 175 and the total cases since the outbreak began on June 16 has reached 195.
“In relation to the 24 new locally acquired cases, 12 were in isolation throughout their infectious period and a further nine were in isolation for part of their infectious period,” chief health officer Kerry Chant said.
“However, this still means that we are seeing cases in the community [while] infectious.”
Ms Berejiklian said the latest update was a “cause for concern” as NSW authorities pondered how to manage the end of the lockdown of greater Sydney on July 9.
“That’s what we will be looking at in the next few days and beyond as a measure of our success,” she said.
“We can’t afford to have people continue to have the virus going about their business. We cannot continue to allow that to happen.”
Thursday’s results came from nearly 60,000 tests in the previous 24-hour period. But authorities have again pleaded with NSW residents to get tested and then stay at home, if they have even the mildest of symptoms.
“In too many examples we are seeing workers who are leaving the house with symptoms or going to work with symptoms,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“Then inadvertently as they are going about shopping or other activity, they are passing it onto others.”
Anyone who did leave home should “assume that you have the virus or that people you come into contact with have the virus and act accordingly”, she said.
“This is so important for us moving forward,” she said.
NSW Health has also confirmed a second infection linked to a student nurse who worked on wards at Royal North Shore, Fairfield and Royal Ryde Rehabilitation hospitals while infectious.
The student nurse’s positive diagnosis was reported on Wednesday but is part of Thursday’s data.
Wards have been locked down at all hospitals after the positive tests.
Dr Chant said the second worker had worked briefly with the student nurse at RNS. He did not work again while infectious.
“[He] had a small crossover with this individual, had been rapidly identified as a close contact and hence did not go into work yesterday and instead got tested,” she said.
Another of the student nurse’s contacts is an aged-care worker. But 135 of 149 residents at the aged-care home where that person works have been vaccinated against the virus.
Among other new cases in NSW are two passengers from a Virgin flight from the Gold Coast to Sydney last Saturday.
“We understand that both were isolating, but this is just still being confirmed from the second passenger,” she said.
Virgin Flight VA524 was listed by NSW Health as a possible exposure site earlier this week. It was one of five worked by a COVID-positive Sydney flight attendant on June 25-26 while they were potentially infectious.
More cases in Queensland
A woman who checks-in passengers and international flight crew at Brisbane Airport is one of two new local COVID cases in Queensland.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk also confirmed another local case in Queensland on Thursday.
It is linked to the outbreak at the Portuguese Family Centre, and the person was already in isolation.
The new community infections were detected on another day of recording virus testing in Queensland, as well as record vaccinations.
Ms Palaszczuk said it was encouraging news for Queenslanders hoping lockdown will end at 6pm on Friday.
“We’ve still got another 24 hours to go to see what happens over the next 24 hours, and we’ll update you tomorrow in relation to whether or not we can leave that lockdown,” she said.
“But like I said, it is very very encouraging us, at this stage.”
The state’s partial lockdown – which covers residents of Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan City, Moreton Bay, Redlands, the Sunshine Coast, Noosa, Somerset, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim, the Gold Coast, Townsville, Magnetic Island and nearby Palm Island – is due to end on Friday night.