Sydney’s coronavirus case spike sparks fresh calls for a brutal city-wide lockdown

Sydney’s uptick in coronavirus cases has sparked fresh calls for a brutal city-wide lockdown similar to Melbourne’s – but the experts are divided. 

After the city recorded 18 local cases on Wednesday, including a new mystery cluster centred in the inner-west suburb of Croydon, former GP turned journalist Dr Norman Swann led calls for an immediate two-week shut down.

‘The precautionary principle is act fast, act early and beg for forgiveness later because there are no prizes for being late to this party,’ he said.  

But Australia’s chief medical officer Professor Paul Kelly said it’s too early for a crippling lockdown and praised New South Wales Health for its excellent contact tracing system which has linked 138 cases to a cluster on the Northern Beaches.

Sydney's uptick in coronavirus cases has sparked fresh calls for a brutal city-wide lockdown similar to Melbourne's - but the experts are divided. Pictured: The Opera House on Wednesday

Sydney’s uptick in coronavirus cases has sparked fresh calls for a brutal city-wide lockdown similar to Melbourne’s – but the experts are divided. Pictured: The Opera House on Wednesday

Due to the concerning increase in mystery cases, Premier Berejiklian (pictured on Wednesday) has limited the number of household visitors allowed in Greater Sydney to five, down from 10

Due to the concerning increase in mystery cases, Premier Berejiklian (pictured on Wednesday) has limited the number of household visitors allowed in Greater Sydney to five, down from 10

Due to the concerning increase in mystery cases, Premier Berejiklian (pictured on Wednesday) has limited the number of household visitors allowed in Greater Sydney to five, down from 10

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‘They are onto this, they were onto it immediately when that first case came forward… and now we need to wait and see,’ he said.

Professor Kelly said the new gathering restrictions which limit home visitors to five and cap outside meetings at 30 were ‘appropriate’ and said NSW will consider any further rules in the New Year.

‘I know the Chief Health Officer in New South Wales will be looking at this very carefully in coming days and make that proportionate decision, weighing up risks and benefits, which, of course, they need to,’ he said.  

Dr Swann had claimed there are probably hundreds of cases in Sydney that have not been found and that a lockdown now would be better than waiting until most people go back to work in the New Year.

‘We know from research done at the Kirby institute in Sydney that we under-diagnose by at least a factor of three,’ he told ABC News.

‘If you go by the Australian National University’s figures we under-diagnose by a factor of seven. The Kirby institute is probably more accurate so there are 450 to 500 cases out there in New South Wales not 150.’  

Dr Swann said masks should be mandatory and the India-Australia Test match at the Sydney Cricket Ground next week should be held without fans.  

Dr Swann said modelling by Sydney University showed that every day lockdown is delayed means it must be in place for an extra week to get case numbers back to zero.

Disease expert Professor Raina MacIntyre of UNSW said more cases will be recorded after the infection spread at Christmas Day gatherings.

‘NSW is not in the clear yet. The greatest danger period is the first two weeks of January, and we will have to see what happens then,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.    

Gladys Berejiklian has tightened restrictions ahead of New Year’s Eve with only five visitors allowed to Sydney homes as New South Wales records 18 new coronavirus cases including a new mystery cluster.

Nine cases are linked to the Avalon cluster while three adults and three children from the same extended family make up a fresh unlinked cluster sparked in Croydon, inner-west Sydney. 

Officials expect the cluster to increase over the coming days because the extended family had about 34 close contacts over Christmas.  

This map shows the cases that have been recorded in Greater Sydney since December 16 when a couple from Avalon tested positive. There have been 160 cases with 138 of them linked to the Northern Beaches cluster. Out of the 138 linked to the Northern Beaches, 106 live in that area and 32 live elsewhere in Sydney

This map shows the cases that have been recorded in Greater Sydney since December 16 when a couple from Avalon tested positive. There have been 160 cases with 138 of them linked to the Northern Beaches cluster. Out of the 138 linked to the Northern Beaches, 106 live in that area and 32 live elsewhere in Sydney

This map shows the cases that have been recorded in Greater Sydney since December 16 when a couple from Avalon tested positive. There have been 160 cases with 138 of them linked to the Northern Beaches cluster. Out of the 138 linked to the Northern Beaches, 106 live in that area and 32 live elsewhere in Sydney

New calls for testing: Long lines of people waiting to be tested for COVID-19 snake around the block at Wollongong Hospital

New calls for testing: Long lines of people waiting to be tested for COVID-19 snake around the block at Wollongong Hospital

New calls for testing: Long lines of people waiting to be tested for COVID-19 snake around the block at Wollongong Hospital

New South Wales has recorded 18 new local cases of coronavirus, prompting Gladys Berejiklian to tighten restrictions ahead of New Year's Eve. Pictured: Testing at the Figtree Community Centre in Wollongong

New South Wales has recorded 18 new local cases of coronavirus, prompting Gladys Berejiklian to tighten restrictions ahead of New Year's Eve. Pictured: Testing at the Figtree Community Centre in Wollongong

New South Wales has recorded 18 new local cases of coronavirus, prompting Gladys Berejiklian to tighten restrictions ahead of New Year’s Eve. Pictured: Testing at the Figtree Community Centre in Wollongong

A nurse tests a patient in Wollongong on Wednesday after two mystery cases were recorded in the area. Sydney has now suffered 160 cases since 16 December

A nurse tests a patient in Wollongong on Wednesday after two mystery cases were recorded in the area. Sydney has now suffered 160 cases since 16 December

A nurse tests a patient in Wollongong on Wednesday after two mystery cases were recorded in the area. Sydney has now suffered 160 cases since 16 December

New alerts for venues visited by positive cases

Anyone who has visited must get tested and isolate until negative: 

Buckley’s: Opera House Promenade, Thursday 17 December 7.30pm-9pm (indoor diners and staff only)

Open Air Cinema screening of Prom:  Lady Macquarie’s Chair, Thursday 17 December   

Figtree Grove Shopping Centre: 19 Princes Hwy, Monday 21 December 12.30pm-1.30pm; Wednesday 23 December 8.45am-9am; Thursday 24 December 6.45am-9.30am 

Wollongong Central 200 Crown St: Wednesday 23 December 3.30pm-4pm 

Full list of venues is here 

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Those infected are from three households based in south-western Sydney, inner-west Sydney and another part of Sydney, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said. 

Dr Chant revealed she is worried that the Croydon cluster has not been linked to the Avalon cluster, saying: ‘At this moment we have not found a link to the Northern Beaches despite 24 hours of really intensive investigations. It’s not to say we won’t, but at this stage, that is concerning.’ 

Two further mystery cases are members of the same household from Wollongong and another unlinked case is from northern Sydney. 

There were an additional seven cases in hotel quarantine, taking Wednesday’s total to 25. 

Due to the concerning increase in mystery cases, Premier Berejiklian has limited the number of household visitors allowed in Greater Sydney to five, down from 10.

Outdoor gatherings have also been reduced to 30, down from 50. 

‘Our preferred advice is that people just stay home for New Year’s Eve, but if you must have people over, don’t have more than five and please make sure you have adequate social distancing and good ventilation,’ Ms Berejiklian said.  

Four new venues have been visited by positive cases including an Open Air Cinema screening of Prom at Lady Macquarie’s Chair on Thursday. Everyone who attended is being asked to get tested and isolate until negative.

Wednesday’s new cases take the Avalon cluster which emerged on December 16 to 138.

Ms Berejiklian said she expected the cluster to grow, adding: ‘When you had a large concentration of cases, you do expect during the process you’re going to have those household contacts in isolation get the virus and obviously that pushes up the numbers.

‘I’m expecting the numbers to bounce around for several weeks. But what we don’t want to see is new chains of transmission that we don’t know about.’

Some 17,000 people were tested on Tuesday but Dr Chant wants this number to increase amid fears the virus is spreading undetected.   

The Wollongong cases have sparked close-contact health alerts for two Greek Orthodox churches in the city dating back to December 27 – St Nektarios Church and The Holy Cross Church.

Casual contact alerts also apply for several venues at Figtree, including Figtree Grove Shopping Centre, Mona Vale and Wollongong.

Residents have been lining up in large numbers outside Wollongong Hospital to be tested since Tuesday. 

New South Wales has recorded 18 new local cases of coronavirus. Pictured: Fireworks are prepared for New Years Eve in Sydney

New South Wales has recorded 18 new local cases of coronavirus. Pictured: Fireworks are prepared for New Years Eve in Sydney

New South Wales has recorded 18 new local cases of coronavirus. Pictured: Fireworks are prepared for New Years Eve in Sydney

What are the rules for New Year’s Eve? 

For New Year’s Eve in Greater Sydney (including Wollongong, Central Coast and Blue Mountains) the following will apply:

· Household gatherings will be limited to 5 visitors (including children).

· The limit for outdoor gatherings will be reduced from 50 to 30.

Restrictions for the northern zone of the Northern Beaches remain the same but for the southern zone of the Northern Beaches the following will now apply;

· Household gatherings will be limited to 5 visitors from within your zone (including children).

These changes come into effect from midnight tonight (Wednesday 30 December) and will be in place until further notice.

For New Year’s Eve Celebrations:

• The CBD frontline worker fireworks vantage point offering is cancelled. Frontline workers will be offered another opportunity in 2021.

• Hospitality venues will remain open but must adhere to the one person per four square metres rule.

• Council events may continue but they must be controlled and seated with no mingling, and record keeping requirements must be strictly adhered to.

• A short, seven minute fireworks display will continue at midnight. 

Unless you have a New Year’s Eve Pass through Service NSW, you will not be able to enter designated zones around Circular Quay, North Sydney and the City.

From midnight Monday 28 December: 

For the Northern Beaches peninsula zone (North of Narrabeen Bridge, and east of the Baha’i Temple), the following rules apply until January 9:

· The health situation remains volatile and the current restrictions will remain in place to supress community transmission.

· However, indoor and outdoor gatherings will be allowed for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day but will be restricted to five visitors in total from within your zone (and includes at homes).

· Current arrangements allowing five people to gather outdoors (not at homes) for exercise and recreation, from within the same zone, continues.

· No restaurants, cafes, pubs or clubs (except for takeaway) will be permitted to open, including for New Year’s Eve.

For the remainder (southern zone) of the Northern Beaches, the following rules apply until January 2:

· The health situation remains volatile and the current restrictions will remain in place to supress community transmission.

· However, indoor and outdoor gatherings will be allowed for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day but will be restricted to five visitors in total from within your zone (and includes at homes).

· Current arrangements allowing 10 people to gather outdoors (not at homes) for exercise and recreation, from within the same zone, continues.

· No restaurants, cafes, pubs or clubs (except for takeaway) will be permitted to open, including for New Year’s Eve. 

For regional NSW there is no change to current arrangements   

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The increase in cases prompted the ACT to extend its border closure to Sydney residents for another week. Victoria said it would not open its border ‘anytime soon.’

Even though outdoor gatherings are limited to 30, Dr Chant said Test match next week is safe to hold with 24,000 spectators because it is seated and ticketed.

‘We will be handing out masks on public transport going into the SCG, and advising people to wear masks when they are not physically at their seat.

‘We also are asking people to ensure that they recognise around screaming and chanting, particularly when they are not in their fixed location. But 50 per cent occupancy ensures spacing and if people are staying in a fixed location.’ 

On Tuesday Ms Berejiklian urged Greater Sydney residents to get tested after 16,000 people got swabbed on Tuesday, down from 70,000 on Thursday. 

She said ‘Greater Sydney must be on high alert’ until the source of new mystery cases is found.

‘I say that in order to encourage as many people as possible across the state, even if you live in the regions, if you have the mildest of symptoms please come forward to get tested,’ Ms Berejiklian said.    

On Monday the premier tightened restrictions for gatherings across Sydney as the state recorded five new cases.

The northern zone of the Northern Beaches will remain locked down until January 9 to stop the spread of Covid-19. The southern zone will be released from lockdown on January 2

The northern zone of the Northern Beaches will remain locked down until January 9 to stop the spread of Covid-19. The southern zone will be released from lockdown on January 2

The northern zone of the Northern Beaches will remain locked down until January 9 to stop the spread of Covid-19. The southern zone will be released from lockdown on January 2

The iconic 12-minute midnight firework display (pictured last year), which is normally attended by a million people and watched around the world, has been shortened to seven minutes

The iconic 12-minute midnight firework display (pictured last year), which is normally attended by a million people and watched around the world, has been shortened to seven minutes

The iconic 12-minute midnight firework display (pictured last year), which is normally attended by a million people and watched around the world, has been shortened to seven minutes

Premier Berejiklian said officials still don’t know how the outbreak began, meaning the northern zone of the Northern Beaches will remain locked down until January 9 to stop the disease spreading – but residents will be allowed five visitors from the zone on New Year’s Eve.

The southern zone will be released from lockdown on January 2 – but residents are allowed 10 visitors from the zone on December 31. 

Thousands of firefighters, nurses and other frontline workers from across the state were due to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks around the Harbour Bridge as a reward for their hard work during such a difficult year – but Premier Berejiklian said another time will be found to thank them.

The iconic 12-minute midnight firework display, which is normally attended by a million people and watched around the world, has been shortened to seven minutes this year to save money during the pandemic.

The premier has told residents to avoid the city centre, saying the decades-old tradition of camping around the harbour to secure a good view is banned.

‘We’re trying to be as generous as possible, but we don’t want to create any superspreading events on New Year’s Eve, that ruins it for everyone,’ she said.

Anyone entering the CBD will need to have a pass from Service NSW to prove they have a booking at a restaurant or are visiting a friend’s home.

The government has also ordered local councils to scrap events unless they can be seated and ticketed outside, with a record of attendees kept.

Some 15,000 NSW residents got tested on Sunday. Pictured: Testing in Bondi last week

Some 15,000 NSW residents got tested on Sunday. Pictured: Testing in Bondi last week

Some 15,000 NSW residents got tested on Sunday. Pictured: Testing in Bondi last week 

Plans to allow about 5,000 frontline workers to watch the fireworks from vantage points around the Sydney Harbour have been scrapped. Pictured: Fireworks in 2020

Plans to allow about 5,000 frontline workers to watch the fireworks from vantage points around the Sydney Harbour have been scrapped. Pictured: Fireworks in 2020

Plans to allow about 5,000 frontline workers to watch the fireworks from vantage points around the Sydney Harbour have been scrapped. Pictured: Fireworks in 2020

Dr Chant urged residents who want to throw a small party at home to consider hosting barbecues outside. 

‘If you can have a barbecue or go to a park or you got an area such as a reserve, that is a safer environment than having people congregate,’ she said.

‘If you have the mildest of symptoms, do not attend any of those events whether they’re indoors or outdoors. 

‘The last thing you want to do is be responsible for spreading Covid to your loved ones and the broader community,’ she added.

Premier Berejiklian urged residents to avoid kissing and hugging relatives and friends outside their household.

‘When the clock ticks over to midnight from 31 December to 1 January, I know that’s normally an emotional time where we like to kiss and hug everybody around us. Can I ask for absolute restraint,’ she said. 

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has tightened restrictions ahead of New Year's Eve. Pictured: Bondi Beach on Sunday

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has tightened restrictions ahead of New Year's Eve. Pictured: Bondi Beach on Sunday

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has tightened restrictions ahead of New Year’s Eve. Pictured: Bondi Beach on Sunday

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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