Gladys Berejiklian has foreshadowed a looming announcement about ending the Sydney lockdown, as the state posted 18 more local coronavirus cases on Tuesday.
They included seven who were in the community for part or all of their infectious period.
But both numbers are well short of Monday’s tally, when there were 35 new community infections, 11 of whom had been out and about while infectious.
“The lockdown is having its desired effect to date, no doubt about that,” the Premier said.
The lockdown of greater Sydney is due to lift on Friday, but authorities have so far refused to confirm any plans. On Tuesday, Ms Berejiklian offered her clearest hint yet.
“I hope to be able to communicate to the community tomorrow on what next week looks like,” she said.
“But every minute we have, every last bit of advice we have supports us in being able to make those important decisions.”
The source of two of Tuesday’s cases is so far unknown. Sixteen are linked to known outbreaks, including nine who are household contacts of earlier infections.
They include a third worker at a Baulkham Hills aged-care home. The cluster at the facility has grown to eight, including five residents.
The outbreak linked to an illegal party at the Meriton Suites in Waterloo has also grown, with seven positive diagnoses now among those who attended and five more in their close contacts.
Chief health officer Kerry Chant said there was likely to be further advice on the Waterloo party later on Tuesday.
“I am not aware we have any evidence of transmission beyond that party group,” she said.
“But that will be a matter for those results coming in … and updated advice will be provided once we have had the opportunity of reviewing all of those results.”
Anyone – including guests, staff and contractors – who was on any level of the Meriton Suites, 30 Danks Street, Waterloo, for any amount of time between 7pm on Saturday, June 26, and 8am on Monday, July 5, has been told to immediately get tested and isolate until they receive further advice from NSW Health.
There have been 330 local virus cases in NNSW since June 16, when the first case of the Bondi cluster was reported.
NSW has 26 COVID patients in hospital, including six in intensive care. The ICU patients are aged from their early 50s to their 80s.
Ms Berejiklian said plans for beyond midnight on Friday, when the lockdown is due to end, would depend on health advice, and trends identified in the virus’s spread in NSW.
“What is really scary about the Delta strain, if you look at other countries around the world, two cases become 20 become 100 or 200 very quickly,” she said.
“We managed to avoid that in NSW and we feel we made the lockdown happen at the right time.”
But she cautioned it wouldn’t be “what life looked like necessarily before we went into lockdown”.
“We are looking at a scenario where we don’t burden our citizens more than we have to but we also have to accept the new world we’re living in,” she said.
“This Delta strain is likely to be dominant strain of the virus until we have further information, and we also appreciate that we need to vaccinate more of our population before we can live as freely as we would like.”
-more to come