The NSW government looks set to extend greater Sydney’s two-week lockdown after 112 new locally acquired cases were recorded.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian admitted after Monday’s tally – the highest yet since the outbreak began – it will be “almost impossible” for Sydney to emerge from lockdown as planned on Friday.
“It is not likely, in fact, almost impossible for us to get out of lockdown on Friday but we will be able to provide you further information as soon as that comes to hand,” she said.
“We won’t know the answer as to how long the lockdown will take at this stage because we need to collect the data as to how we can get that number down.”
But Ms Berejiklian refused to be drawn on speculation the lockdown of Sydney and its surrounds might last at least four weeks.
“In the past few days in particular, there has been a massive drop in mobility. People have heeded the warnings and messages and once we see the impact of that we will have a better assessment of the time that we think the lockdown will be on,” she said.
Victoria is also on high alert after two positive cases in a family who returned from NSW last week and a third in a virus-positive NSW removalist who spent a night in Victoria before heading to South Australia.
Late on Monday afternoon, NSW Health also announced several new exposure sites. They include Australian Visa Now and a law firm in Fairfield – both with exposure times covering all of last week – and a medical centre in Bemont.
- For an updated list of NSW exposure sites, click here
With 680 COVID-19 cases in NSW, the head of Australia’s vaccine taskforce has urged Sydneysiders aged under 40 and living in hotspot areas to talk to their doctor about getting the AstraZeneca vaccine.
That’s despite Pfizer being preferred for that age group.
As of Monday afternoon, there were 63 coronavirus patients in hospital in NSW, 14 of whom are under the age of 35 and 18 in intensive care.
Three people aged in their 20s, 30s and 40s, respectively, are in intensive care.
Federal vaccine taskforce chief Lieutenant-General John Frewen said people in south-west Sydney should weigh up the risks of getting coronavirus against the vaccine advice.
“Those people between 18 and 40 need to make a decision now about whether they want to take their chances with the Delta virus or whether they want to get down, have a discussion with their GPs and get AstraZeneca,” he said.
In a major change to the vaccine rollout, NSW’s hubs and pharmacies will start offering AstraZeneca vaccines to anyone aged over 40.
NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said the change in vaccine advice reflected a dramatic shift in the risk situation in Sydney.
“Please contact your general practitioner, see if you can have bookings for the AstraZeneca vaccine and, in some cases, Pfizer vaccine,” she said.
“If you have had the AstraZeneca vaccine within last four weeks, we are asking that you ring your GP and they may be able to bring forward your booking to that six to eight-week period.
“Clearly, [that] trades off the duration of protection that that vaccine might provide you but we know that into the future, we will be providing booster doses of various vaccines and what we want to do is protect you. But my other message is, even one dose of vaccine is worthwhile in improving your likelihood of hospitalisation.”
However, she also urged Sydneysiders to be patient with GPs, who were likely to be inundated with inquiries with the new AstraZeneca push.
Come home now
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has opted to keep the border open to regional NSW but has also warned that could change very quickly.
She urged Queenslanders in regional NSW to return home to avoid being locked out if the coronavirus spreads beyond greater Sydney.
“My message to Queenslanders is if you are in those areas, come home. I can’t be any clearer,” she said on Monday.
“We are monitoring this incredibly closely.”
Queensland had no new locally acquired cases on Monday. The last time a case was infectious in the community was a week ago, on July 5.
Northern Territorians have also been warned to come home, with deputy chief health officer Charles Pain saying the situation could change quickly.
It will, however, remain open to NSW.
“We’re watching whether people are breaching their conditions around lockdown in Sydney,” Mr Pain said on Monday.
Evidence that it’s occurring in significant numbers and further community transmission may lead to further restrictions, he says.
“We tend to pull the trigger fairly quickly … Consider whether you should be in NSW and come home,” he said.
Dr Pain said further border restrictions could be imposed on travellers from NSW after the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee meeting on Monday.