New South Wales has recorded 319 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, as calls grow for an outbreak ‘circuit breaker’ and ‘ring of steel’ around Sydney.
On Saturday, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard told press the state had seen locally acquired daily cases surge past the 300 barrier for the first time this outbreak in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday.
Of the 319 new cases, 125 were linked to previous cases, with 194 remaining under investigation.
“Obviously that presents challenges for our health staff,” Mr Hazzard said.
“That is why I’m saying to the community, you have a really got to get serious about staying at home.
“You cannot leave our health staff continually having to search where you have been, what you have been doing, it is not fair to the community.”
The state saw 108,449 tests up until late Friday, Mr Hazzard said.
There have been 28 lives lost over the course of the outbreak, with five deaths of people over the age of 60 recorded on Friday.
Three of those five deaths were linked to an outbreak on a ward in Liverpool Hospital.
There are currently 56 people with COVID-19 in intensive care, with 23 of those on ventilators.
Hazzard pushes back on CMO’s ‘circuit breaker’ call
On Friday, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly called for NSW to implement a “circuit breaker”, saying the “national” goal was zero COVID-19 cases.
“There’s no sense of (NSW) moving rapidly toward zero,” Professor Kelly said at a Friday evening press conference alongside PM Scott Morrison following a meeting of national cabinet.
“It’s clear there needs to be a circuit breaker,” he said.
But Mr Hazzard pushed back on the CMO’s suggestion on Saturday.
Ring of steel ‘urgently’ needed
On Friday, Ms Berejiklian said it was useless implementing a ring of steel around Sydney, as the coronavirus would still find a way out.
“Unless you have literally a police officer outside every single household … a ring of steel does not prevent Delta from seeping out,” she said.
Last month, the PM rejected calls by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews for Sydney to be ring-fenced to contain the spread of the virus.
“The only view that matters on this is the view of the New South Wales Premier because they are responsible for how they manage the lockdown in New South Wales,” he said.
But University of NSW epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws said a ring of steel around Sydney would help to stop the spread and protect regional areas.
“The ring of steel will stop the risk of Delta escaping. Not just from the hot spots, but you can’t predict where the cases are in greater Sydney,” Professor McLaws told The New Daily.
“It will help reduce it spreading to regional areas.”
Burnet Institute epidemiologist Mike Toole agreed, telling The New Daily Sydney needed to “urgently” implement a ring of steel and was risking the health of the rest of the nation by not doing so.
“They need one … it’s endangering the rest of the country and NSW, which should be their first priority,” Professor Toole said.