Sydney’s COVID lockdown is yet to reduce case numbers, with 50 new infections announced on Saturday morning and warnings that contact tracers are finding it hard to get ahead of the virus.
The new cases were diagnosed from over 42,000 tests in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday, and include 37 who were active in the community for all or part of their infectious period.
A total of 47 COVID-19 patients in NSW have been admitted to hospital, of which 16 people, including a teenager, are in intensive care and four are ventilated, including one person aged in their 20s.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has conceded that with so many infected people out in the community, things may still get worse before they get better.
“We can turn things around and we probably won’t see the difference the next few days over the next few days,” the Premier said.
“I do expect the numbers to be bouncing around and the situation to worsen before it gets better,” the Premier said.
Ms Berejiklian dodged a question about whether she regrets not locking the city down earlier, putting the responsibility for the spread back on people not following guidance.
“Just because we’ve done OK for 18 months doesn’t mean we can act in the same way. I know that people are tired. I know that people have been hearing about COVID and the pandemic for so long, but this is a very testing time for us.
“We need everybody to take it seriously. And we do rely on the best health advice and also the broader advice to make our decisions.”
The Premier refused to be drawn on how long the lockdown may last.
“We all have to work together. The length of this lockdown is up to each and every one of us. I wouldn’t give you a date or tell you a date unless we have more evidence and know that we’ve turned things around.”
“When you know that there are 26 cases infectious in the community (for their entire infectious period), the only conclusion we can draw is that things are going to get worse before they get better.”
One bright spot is that no one who has received two doses of vaccine have landed in hospital, giving more impetus for people to seek the jab.
The Premier again appealed for Sydneysiders to stop bending the lockdown rules, citing at least two people who police caught throwing parties overnight.
NSW Police issued 167 personal infringement notices in 24 hours.
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant also pleaded for people to be truthful with contact tracers.
“We know that everyone is human and makes poor decisions at certain times, but please don’t compound that initial mistake by not telling us the truth the first time,” she said.
“At the moment, as we’re trying to get ahead of the spread of the virus, we haven’t got time to waste unpicking stories, going back and cross-checking and verifying.”
The Premier says the virus is being spread through households.
“The vast majority of those (new) cases – and I can’t stress this enough – are close family or friends of people who have COVID,” the Premier told reporters.
“If you truly love your parents, your sisters, your best friends, please stick to the rules.”
The premier said a premature reopening of Greater Sydney would result in thousands of coronavirus cases, hospitalisations and deaths, although there’s been no further tightening of the range people can travel.
Tough new rules, limiting exercise to groups of two and banning browsing at shops, also came into effect on Friday at 5pm, as the state’s health department on Friday issued more alerts for retail stores across Sydney.
Among them are Woolworths stores in Mascot and Ashfield, Aldi stores in Hoxton Park, Quakers Hill and Ashfield, a Beacon Lighting shop in Bankstown, and KFC in Rockdale.
Several places are listed close contact exposure sites for periods of seven hours or longer.
They include an Ikea at Tempe, where a staffer worked whilst infectious, and a construction site at Homebush.
Seven furniture stores along the same road in Campbelltown have also been identified as venues of concern for visitors on Sunday afternoon.
Asked by reporters why larger retailers were not being ordered to close the Premier again put the onus on citizens, saying they were being urged not to leave home.
Currently the restrictions permit only one person per household to leave the home for shopping each day, and limit funerals to 10 people.
Ten COVID-19 patients in NSW are in intensive care, with four ventilated – one person aged in their 20s.
More to come …