Locally acquired COVID cases have again surged in NSW, with 112 new cases confirmed on Monday.
They include 46 people who were active in the community for at least part of their infectious period – 34 for most of that time.
“Can I stress that is the number that we need to see go down to as close to zero as possible before we can get advice from health to say the lockdown can end,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
It is yet another worrying daily record in the state’s worsening COVID emergency, and followed 77 cases on Sunday.
There have been 678 cases of the coronavirus since the latest outbreak emerged in Bondi in mid-June.
Ms Berejiklian – who had foreshadowed that Monday would bring more than 100 new infections – said most of the new cases were family members or close contacts of people who already had the virus.
Monday’s results came from more than 46,000 COVID tests across NSW. They include 48 yet to be linked to existing outbreaks.
Most of the new infections are in the Fairfield local government area, with other hot zones in Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool.
There are also some in Nepean Blue Mountains and others in people aged 18-20 in the Georges River, Bayside and Sutherland local government areas.
Suburbs of most concern include Fairfield, Smithfield, Bossley Park, Fairfield Heights, Fairfield West, Wakeley, Bonnyrigg, Glenfield and West Hoxton.
“We need to call that out because that is where the virus is spreading the most,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“Even if you regard yourself as an essential worker, especially in the Fairfield local government area, do not leave home if you have symptoms. Do not go to work unless you absolutely know that you don’t have the virus.”
She also urged people who had symptoms or thought they might have the virus to stay away from medical clinics and pharmacies.
“We are seeing people, unfortunately, turn up to waiting rooms of medical centres or GP clinics or going into pharmacies when they have got symptoms and unintentionally passing the virus onto other people in the waiting area or their GPs or pharmacists,” she said.
“We need to make sure if you have symptoms, your first stop should be to the COVID test and stay home until you get the results and you get the health advice.”
Three of Monday’s cases are linked to the Imedic Icare Medical Centre in Fairfield. Anyone at the clinic on Thursday, July 8, from 11am-3pm and Friday, July 9, from 1-6.30pm is a close contact and must immediately get tested and isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result.
Late on Sunday, NSW Health advised of multiple new exposure sites in Fairfield and Fairfield Heights, including more medical centres and pharmacies. A Kogarah fish shop is also in the spotlight. People who have visited any of the sites are being told to get tested and self-isolate.
South-west Sydney doctor and community leader Jamal Rifi said on Monday that activity in the region had noticeably decreased in recent days.
There are also concerns about an apartment block in Sydney’s east, where eight COVID cases have been identified across five households in a block of 29 units.
NSW Health has identified the source of that infection, and all other residents will be in quarantine for 14 days.
Ms Berejiklian said most Sydneysiders were following the rules, and mobility had plunged across the lockdown area. But she again urged people to stay home, unless they absolutely needed to go out.
“We are in an absolutely critical phase of this disease. All of us want to get out of this lockdown as soon as we can. All of us want to reduce the stress we are all feeling and the future is in our hands,” she said.
“Whilst those three local government areas are where most of the cases are certainly circulating, please know the risk is everywhere in those areas that we have asked for people to stay home.”
NSW reported no virus fatalities on Monday, following the death of a woman in her 90s that was confirmed on Sunday. It was the first death in Australia from locally acquired COVD this year.
There are 63 virus patients in NSW hospitals. There are 18 people in intensive care, including four on ventilators. The ages of those in ICU range from their 20s to their 80s.
-more to come