An alert has been issued for residents of several inner-Sydney suburbs after a worrying spike in coronavirus cases.
NSW Health says it is concerned about COVID case numbers in the densely populated areas of Glebe, Waterloo, Redfern and Marrickville.
It has set up walk-in vaccine clinics in Glebe, Marrickville and Ashfield, offering Pfizer jabs to anyone in the area who has not yet had a shot.
“We encourage residents of those areas to come forward for vaccination as soon as you can,” NSW deputy chief health officer Marianne Gale said.
“Pease, if you live in those suburbs, come forward to get vaccinated. Please look out for symptoms and get tested if you have even the mildest of symptoms.”
NSW confirmed another 1480 local COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, after three days of lower infection numbers.
There were also nine more fatalities, taking the number of deaths linked to the current outbreak to 148.
The nine people who died were aged between 20 and 100. Seven were unvaccinated, one had received one dose, and one had had two doses.
Also among the latest fatalities was an Aboriginal man in his 60s from Dubbo. He is believed to be the third Indigenous person to die of the virus in Australia.
Three out of every five people testing positive for COVID-19 in western NSW are Indigenous. From Wednesday’s update, 17 were diagnosed in Dubbo, six in Bourke (including three in Enngonia), three in Bathurst, one in Walgett, and another seven in Wilcannia in the far west.
There were 60 cases from the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District, 34 from the Illawarra Shoalhaven, 15 from the Central Coast and 11 are from the Hunter New England region.
A decision on the future of the COVID-19 lockdown in regional NSW – which is due to expire on Friday – will be made later this week.
Some parts of regional NSW are heavily COVID-affected while others are COVID-free. There is speculation that some districts that have fewer cases – such as northern NSW and the Riverina – could emerge from the statewide lockdown earlier than others.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said nothing was yet finalised.
“No decision has been made about releasing areas from lockdown but the most likely areas, if you’re going to consider it, is areas released with no cases, as simple as that,” he said.
He also warned that regions might be locked down again if COVID cases emerged, particularly if they had lower vaccine rates.
“I make no apologies for that,” he said.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said an announcement on the future for regional NSW was likely on Thursday.
She said “glimmers of hope” were emerging that case numbers were stabilising in some areas of the state. The final touches are being put to a plan for reopening NSW – although Ms Berejiklian again refused to reveal any details.
“I’m extremely optimistic that at 70 per cent double dose everybody who is vaccinated will enjoy life much more freely than what we do today and that’s a commitment we’ve made from day one,” she said on Wednesday.
NSW has hit another significant vaccine milestone, with 75 per cent of the eligible (over-16s) state population having had at least one COVID shot. A total of 42 per cent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated.
“We will all rest easy when we get to at least 80 per cent full doses,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“While parts of western Sydney and south-western Sydney are demonstrating outstanding results, there are other parts of greater Sydney where we’d like vaccination rates to go up.”
Also on Wednesday, health authorities reported that fragments of the virus had been found in sewage in the Bonny Hills area, south of Port Macquarie on the mid-north coast.