NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has again pleaded with Sydneysiders to stay home as the state’s local COVID cases spiked to a devastating record.
There were 633 more local infections across NSW on Wednesday – with only 94 in isolation throughout their infectious period.
The previous NSW daily high was 478 cases reported on Monday.
“According to the data we have, every person who has the virus is spreading it to at least more than one person. Now, for us to know that we have reached our peak, that can’t continue,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“What the data is telling us in the past few days is that we haven’t seen the worst of it. And the way that we stop this is by everybody staying at home.”
The toll from the devastating outbreak has also risen further, with three more deaths on Wednesday, none of whom were fully vaccinated.
Two unvaccinated men in their late 60s and and late 70s died, along with a man in his late 70s who had received one shot of AstraZeneca. All three died in Sydney hospitals.
They take the toll from the outbreak that began in mid-June to at least 60.
Ms Berejiklian said 550 of Wednesday’s cases were from south-western and western Sydney. The suburbs of most concern are: Merrylands, Guildford, Auburn, Greenacre, St Marys, Strathfield and Yagoona.
“The vast, vast majority of cases are in younger people in those areas of concern,” she said.
“That is where our focus needs to remain – although given the high viral load, it could mean that there could be an outbreak anywhere if anyone from those communities moves to work in other communities.”
Chief health officer said there were 462 COVID cases in the state’s hospitals. They include 77 people in intensive care, 25 of those on ventilation.
“We have people in their teens, in their 20s, in their 30s, in their 40s, in their 50s, in their 60s, in their 70s and in their 80s – and we know that for every one of those individuals in ICU, particularly those in the older age groups, they have a real and material risk of death,” she said.
“We will see more admissions and more deaths if these numbers continue to increase.”
Dr Chant said vaccination remained “an aid” to help halt the virus’s spread, but rates were still too low in NSW.
“We need to push that up as much as we can,” she said.
“But in the meantime, we also need to do everything we can to not come in contact with anyone, to minimise our movements and to continue to get tested and isolate if you have the most minimal of symptoms.”
From Wednesday, people aged 16-39 in the 12 local government areas of concern are about to book for Pfizer doses. Ms Berejiklian urged anyone eligible to book through the NSW Health website.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said western NSW was another key focus for authorities.
New cases on Wednesday included 17 in Dubbo, as well as more in Mudgee, Narromine and Gilgandra. There are cases in Wilcannia, Bourke and Broken Hill.
“It is clear that this issue in western NSW is where our focus and our priority is – and the message for everybody is to follow the state at home orders, cut down mobility,” he said.
“Make sure that you get tested at your first sign of any symptoms and at the same time, of course, consider vaccination.”
There were also 10 more cases in Newcastle, two in Maitland, three each in Lake Macquarie and Shellharbour and one in Wollongong. In addition, there is a case in Kempsey that was reported after NSW’s 8pm cut-off.
Wastewater testing has continued to pick up the virus in Yamba, Orange, Wollongong and Bathurst.
There are no new infections in Armidale, Tamworth or the Northern Rivers.
Vic sex worker has virus
In Victoria, there were another 24 local cases on Wednesday – one of them a Melbourne sex worker.
State Health Minister Martin Foley said the worker was “safely quarantining”.
“There is no evidence of transmission having occurred because of this person’s sex work occupation but out of caution, we are asking that if you have employed a sex worker in the St Kilda area, you need to come forward and get tested,” he said.
St Kilda and other suburbs in Melbourne’s inner-south-east have been the focus of Victorian contact tracers in recent days, with several mystery cases emerging in the area.
There were four more mystery infections among the 24 in Victoria on Wednesday. Eighteen of the most recent cases were in isolation throughout their infectious period.
Elsewhere, the ACT had 22 more cases on Wednesday. All were linked to existing outbreaks.
Exposure sites across the territory have ballooned, including the addition of three more schools.
There were no new local infections in the Northern Territory, where greater Darwin and Katherine are in lockdown.