Premier Gladys Berejiklian is urging NSW residents to remain calm, while Health Minister Brad Hazzard says it’s no time to be selfish.
Their messages follow the highest number of daily COVID-19 infections recorded not just by the state but by any Australian jurisdiction during the pandemic.
Some 830 people tested positive for the virus in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday, a jump of just five from the previous day.
In a bid to shift public focus from the rising tide of cases to “more important” vaccination figures and the national goal of 70 and 80 per cent coverage, Ms Berejiklian said on Saturday she’d noticed a “change in attitude” from her interstate counterparts.
“We accept that Delta is here,” she told reporters.
“We accept heading to zero across the nation, especially once you open up and live freely, will be an impossible task.”
The premier implored people to “be real about it” and know that vaccinations were keeping them and their loved ones out of hospital.
Nearly 80 per cent of Saturday’s cases were in Sydney’s west and southwest where tough new restrictions including a night-time curfew are in force.
It was also revealed that three more people in Sydney had died of COVID-19: two men in their 80s and 90s in aged care at Normanhurst and a woman in her 90s in Liverpool Hospital.
Deputy Chief Health Officer Marianne Gale said six residents of the Normanhurst facility’s dementia ward had been diagnosed with the virus after an unvaccinated staff member worked while infectious. Four of them had declined the jab.
The key numbers
- Total in NSW for entire COVID-19 pandemic: 17,806
- In hospital: 557 (+41)
- In intensive care: 94 (+9)
- Ventilated: 31 (+2)
- Deaths in current outbreak: 71 (+3)
One illegal party, 16 fresh cases
An illegal party in the beachside suburb of Maroubra held last weekend has led 16 revellers to test positive, plus some of their contacts. Up to 60 people attended the event.
Mr Hazzard said he’d been told a funeral in western NSW may have drawn up to 500 mourners.
“Many of those people are now returned to the far flung parts of our state and I’m already hearing from our health system that there are cases that are positive in various communities and those will probably grow in the next few days,” he said.
“There is no time now to be selfish.”
The spread of the virus in the state’s far northwest is of “very, very grave concern”, Ms Berejiklian warned.
There were 14 cases in the health district – which only serves 30,000 people – 12 of them in Wilcannia.
The western district had 38 cases including 32 in Dubbo.
The entire state is now locked down and a police blitz underway to enforce harsher regulations and increased fines.
Sydney protesters foiled
A concerted police operation to smother a planned anti-lockdown protest in Sydney appeared to be effective with numbers a fraction of a demonstration earlier this month.
Some 1500 police were involved in patrolling approaches to the CBD, while train services, taxis and ride-share services were excluded.
NSW Police arrested 47 people and fined more than 260 in relation to protests across the state.
They issued 137 tickets after stopping around 38,000 cars approaching the city.
A 32-year-old man who allegedly assaulted an officer was arrested and charges are expected to be laid.
The constable was taken to hospital for head and neck injuries.
Two schools closed
Leichhardt Public School has been closed after a staff member tested positive to COVID-19, and Lane Cove West Public School was also shut after a student tested positive.
Staff and students at both schools have been asked to self-isolate until further notice, a NSW Education spokesperson said in a statement on Saturday night.
Persistently high case numbers have led to stay-at-home orders for Sydneysiders until at least September 30 while regional NSW is locked down until at least August 28.
To the north, across the closed border, Queensland has no new cases of COVID-19 as efforts ramp up to ensure better contact tracing in the future.
From August 30 all taxi, limousine and ride-share operators will be forced to start using QR codes.
The move will enable the quick tracing of all passengers if there is an outbreak in a public use vehicle, which happened recently in Cairns when an infected taxi driver was on the job for days.
Thankfully he did not infect anyone, but Deputy Premier Steven Miles says its essential to have a better system to deal with issues like that in the future.
Mr Miles said it was great to be able to tell Queenslanders they’ve had another zero-cases day.