New South Wales has recorded 210 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, with Health Minister Brad Hazzard warning the virus is “continuing to spread”.
At least 32 of those 210 people were circulating in the community for all or part of their infectious period.
Greater Sydney and surrounding regions are in lockdown until at least August 28, as health authorities battle to contain a outbreak of the virulent Delta strain.
“The focus, unfortunately, has been in that area and I’d ask everybody in the local area to do what NSW Health has asked on many occasions and that is a stay-at-home,” he said on Saturday morning.
“Just stay-at-home unless you must go out, unless it is essential that you go out. Stay-at-home. Definitely do not go and visit another household.
“I know you want to visit your aunts and uncles and cousins. We all do but unfortunately, that is continuing to be a very dangerous exercise and the virus is continuing to spread in that South-Western Sydney and Western Sydney area.”
Delta hits young people hard as 198 people hospitalised
There are currently 198 people with COVID-19 in hospital in NSW, 53 of which are in intensive care, with 27 requiring ventilation.
“That tells us that is an extremely serious disease and people are ending up in our hospitals in substantial numbers,” Mr Hazzard said.
“That is a concern for those individuals and also the health staff who are caring for them.”
The Delta variant is “partial to younger people”, Mr Hazzard said, and is “circulating in the younger community”.
Some 138 of the 210 new COVID-19 cases recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday are people under the age of 40.
There are currently 11 people under the age of 40 in intensive care with COVID-19 in NSW.
“My message to younger people is, please, understand this is a virus that you can be susceptible to,” Mr Hazzard said.
“You can end up being one of our positive cases and also end up in hospital and also and up transferring the virus due sadly, some of the relatives and those relatives may well and up, as you may, in hospital and may pass away.”
The growing number of COVID-19 cases is “impacting on our hospital system”, Mr Hazzard said.
Meanwhile, the city’s public hospitals have begun postponing non-urgent elective surgeries to cope with the outbreak.
Some 58 COVID-19 patients are being treated in intensive care beds, with 40 per cent needing ventilation.
While the state has 500 ICU beds, NSW Health says stopping some elective surgeries from Monday will increase capacity for other health services.
The change will not affect theatres in Illawarra or Central Coast hospitals.
As COVID-19 continues to spread, Sydney construction projects are waking from an enforced, fortnight-long slumber but building industry figures warn it will barely be able to function.
Work was allowed to resume from Saturday morning on non-occupied sites, provided COVID-safe plans are in force.
But the sector cannot call on 68,000 workers from eight council areas worst-hit by the city’s coronavirus outbreak.
Most COVID-19 cases are in the eight areas subjected to the locked-down city’s tightest restrictions, including mandatory mask-wearing outside the home and distance limits on movements for shopping and exercise.
Construction workers living within, who make up about 42 per cent of the industry’s citywide workforce, also cannot work.
“This is a highly limited return to work for the construction industry but something is certainly better than nothing at all,” Urban Taskforce chief executive Tom Forrest said.
The state’s workplace safety regulator says construction sites should expect a visit to ensure they’re complying with public health orders.
“SafeWork NSW will work with businesses to help them understand the rules – and will penalise firms blatantly making no effort to comply,” the organisation’s Director of Construction Metropolitan, Meagan McCool, said.