Greater Sydney coronavirus lockdown extended by one week as virus spreads in city's southwest

The lockdown on Greater Sydney, Wollongong, Shellharbour, Blue Mountains and the Central Coast, which was due to end on 9 July, will be extended.

Gladys Berejiklian is expected to confirm a virus lockdown will be extended by a week after meeting with health experts late on Tuesday.

Gladys Berejiklian is expected to confirm a virus lockdown will be extended by a week after meeting with health experts late on Tuesday. Source: AAP

The NSW government has confirmed a coronavirus lockdown imposed on millions of people in five regions will be extended by one week, as the state recorded 27 new local cases on Wednesday.

Of the new transmissions, 18 are linked to known clusters, with nine under investigation. Less than half of the new cases were in isolation during their infectious period.

As a result, the stay-at-home restrictions on Greater Sydney, Wollongong, Shellharbour, Blue Mountains and the Central Coast, which were initially due to end on Friday, will now run another week until 11.59pm on 16 July.

“What we want to do is give us our best chance of making sure this is the only lockdown we have until the vast majority of our citizens are vaccinated,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters on Wednesday.

“We don't want to be in a situation where we are constantly having to move between lockdown, no lockdown, lockdown, no lockdown.”


The premier said transmission was concentrated in the Local Government Areas of Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool, in the city's southwest. 

She warned authorities are considering increasing restrictions in those three local areas if the situation deteriorates.

“The concern we've got though, which is reflected in the numbers of the people that are infectious in the community, is the fact that by the time we get to those household cases the rest of the household is already infected and so therefore has been unknowingly in the community infectious,” Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said.

Ms Berejiklian urged residents in those three areas to limit their movements, with a police blitz to enforce current restrictions.

“Please don't mingle with family. What is spreading the virus is any form of mobility,” she said.

“Every time you leave the house, please assume that you have the virus or that a loved one around you has the virus.”

 

Cases are still being diagnosed in south-eastern Sydney, but most were among household contacts and were isolated before they became infectious.

A total of 37 patients have been hospitalised, 14 of which are under the age of 55, with eight patients under the age of 35. 

Seven people are receiving intensive care, one of whom is in their thirties, a statistic Dr Chant described as a “wake up call to young people".

Ms Berejiklian said a road map would be provided in coming days to determine Sydney’s path out of lockdown.

“What happens in the next 10 days and beyond in terms of how we tackle the existing virus is up to all of us.”

Business NSW described the lockdown extension as a "crushing blow", and noted that there was no JobKeeper this time around.

But chief executive Daniel Hunter said balancing health and economic pressures was "a very difficult assignment" for the government, and businesses understood the importance of community safety above all else.

"It’s more important than ever that as a community we do the right thing when it comes to obeying the rules, always check in and out with QR codes, and get vaccinated when possible," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

Students return to remote learning

With the new school term due to begin next week, students in those five regions will be learning from home, in a bid to reduce movement in the community.

“We need to stop literally hundred of thousands of adults moving around and interacting with each other inadvertently as they drop kids off, pick kids up at those usual time,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“[It’s] not because schools aren't a safe place…but our main concern is too many people being mobile at the same time and having those interactions.”

The children of essential workers will be able to attend schools, as has happened in earlier lockdowns while students outside locked down regions will be able to return to the classroom.

18 locally acquired COVID-19 case in NSW

New infections in aged care

Two new positive cases have been linked to the SummitCare Baulkham Hills aged care facility, which were included in Wednesday's numbers.

Among those new cases is a fourth staff member, who has been in isolation since 1 July and had received their first Pfizer dose.

On Tuesday afternoon, SummitCare announced another female resident had been infected, the wife of a resident who tested positive last week.

Both residents were fully vaccinated and had been transferred to Westmead Hospital after the husband's positive result.

"The resident, who until today was not positive, wanted to accompany her husband who tested positive on Saturday," a statement from SummitCare said on Tuesday.

"The latest case takes the total number of positive cases to six residents, all of whom are now off-site and showing no symptoms of the virus at this stage."

Yesterday, NSW Health teams at the site vaccinated 24 residents, with 99 percent of occupants having received at least one dose of protection.

The organisation told SBS News 50 percent of staff have now been vaccinated.

Catholic schoolboy vaccinations 'clearly an error'

Dr Chant has apologised for an "error" that led to 163 Year 12 boarders from Sydney's St Joseph's College receiving their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in May, despite younger people not being eligible.

On Tuesday afternoon, the school issued a statement saying it approached Sydney Local Health District because a large number of the students are boarders, with some coming from rural communities - including remote Indigenous communities.

Sydney Local Health District chief executive Dr Teresa Anderson on Tuesday evening said only Indigenous students - who are eligible - were supposed to be vaccinated.

"It was agreed that the Aboriginal students would be vaccinated through the state health system at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital's vaccination hub," she said in a statement.

"Through an error, the wider group of boarders in Year 12, a total of 163 students, were also vaccinated.

"Sydney Local Health District apologises for this error."

Dr Chant told reporters on Wednesday no other private schools had received similar treatment.

“I can understand the concern and sympathise with the anger in the community about that occurrence because as we know, I've said repeatedly that the vaccine needs to be administered to those most at risk,” she said.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard rejected the notion that the mistake reflected poorly on NSW Health.

“What I find more embarrassing is that you would make that sort of question and accusation against front-line health staff who work their butts off and will have tomorrow achieved 1 million vaccinations in arms,” he told reporters.

“You know what? The school intended it well. There was a mistake and so what? It's happened, out of a million vaccinations, move on.”

All Indigenous people aged 16 to 49 are eligible for vaccination as they have a higher risk of acquiring, and developing severe disease from, COVID-19.

- With AAP.


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Published 7 July 2021 at 6:09am, updated 7 July 2021 at 4:32pm
By Naveen Razik, Jodie Stephens