NSW’s new local coronavirus cases have dropped to 170 – as authorities admit they are worried some migrant families are ignoring pleas to get tested, with sometimes fatal results.
Of Friday’s cases, 52 spent at least part of their infectious period in the community, continuing the worrying trend seen throughout NSW’s current outbreak.
The isolation status of a further 53 is yet to be determined.
“Obviously today’s number is considerably less than yesterday but don’t assume it will not be back up tomorrow because while there are so many infectious in the community, we expect to see those numbers bounce around,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
“What we do need is not just the stabilisation but, of course, the numbers to go down.”
Friday’s update came after a grim record of 239 local COVID infections on Thursday, and two more fatalities. There were no new deaths to report on Friday, and NSW’s toll from its current outbreak remains at 13.
But Health Minister Brad Hazzard said some families, particularly in the virus-hit areas of west and south-west Sydney where there are high migrant populations, were delaying seeking help – sometimes with fatal consequences.
“Very sadly, we are seeing more families coming in with a family member who is presenting not alive but dead. That is a terrible situation,” he said.
“Can I say to those families, our government, the NSW government is perhaps not like the government that you have lived under overseas. We are here to support you and our health system is here to support you.”
Chief health officer Kerry Chant also urged people to seek help early.
“I’m just struck by the tragedy of it, that we’ve had a number of people that are presented to hospital severely unwell and sometimes dead,” she said.
“I just think that people need to know that, with COVID, you can
deteriorate quite quickly.”
Also on Friday, NSW Police stepped up their checks of homes to make sure people are complying with lockdown rules. They will also target businesses that are breaching public health orders.
Defence personnel will be on the ground in Sydney from Monday to further boost the effort.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said there were generally high levels of compliance with lockdown rules. But he said police had more than 2000 premises to keep checks on.
“This morning, [members did] a COVID compliance check, [and found a] young man who was COVID positive was out of the house and he had gone to work on a building site,” he said.
“That sort of behaviour is exactly why we need strong health orders, law enforcement and defence.”
Mr Fuller also urged anyone considering heading into central Sydney for a potential lockdown protest on Saturday to stay home instead.
“If you do, you will be met by up to 1000 police who will be ready to deal with you,” he said.
NSW Health and police are working to determine if one person subsequently diagnosed with COVID attended last week’s rally.
They were given an infringement notice and turned around on their way to the city, but it is not known if they actually went to the protest. They would have been infectious at the time.
Ms Berejiklian said NSW had administered 3.6 million shots of virus vaccines – but renewed her plea for more people to line up for a dose.
“It’s really important for us to get as many jabs in arms as possible because more jabs in arms means more freedom for all of us. And the quicker we get vaccinated, the quicker we can live more freely,” she said.
A new vaccine centre will open at Qudos Bank Arena at Sydney Olympic Park from August 9.
It will initially be for about 20,000 students in the eight Sydney local government areas that are of most concern in the escalating COVID outbreak. Once they are vaccinated, the centre will become a mass hub.
There now now been 2980 local virus cases in NSW, since the Bondi outbreak emerged in mid-June.
The state has 187 COVID patients in hospital. They include 58 people in intensive care, 24 of whom require ventilation.