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New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian is not ruling out easing restrictions for Christmas Day after a second day of low new Covid-19 case numbers and record high testing rates.
The state recorded eight positive cases until 8pm last night, seven of which were linked to the Avalon cluster on the northern beaches, which has now grown to 90.
The other positive case is a nurse who worked as part of the state’s hotel quarantine program.
On 14 December, she assisted in transporting a symptomatic family of three who had arrived from the United States. A close work contact of the nurse also recorded a positive test after 8pm on Monday night, which will be recorded in Wednesday’s figures.
Genomic sequencing which will determine if the nurse contracted the virus from the family who arrived from the US is expected to be released later on Tuesday.
There was a record 44,466 tests conducted in the 24 hours to 8pm Monday and 10 new internationally acquired coronavirus cases.
Berejiklian thanked residents for their response so far, but said it was too early to decide whether measures could ease for Christmas. She knew it would be a difficult time for some if they had to spend the day alone.
“If it wasn’t this time of year, the decision would be much easier.
“But obviously we need to consider mental health issues, we need to consider what people are going through as part of that decision as well but we also need to consider what it means for our eight million citizens across the state.
“That’s why we will take the best advice available at that time and that’s why we always say that during a pandemic things evolve by the hour, things evolve by the day and we will base our decision on that best information we have as at tomorrow.”
NSW Health has released details of dozens more venues attended by a positive case, including the Rose of Australia pub in Erskineville in Sydney’s inner west, where a person contracted the virus while dining despite “very casual” contact with a positive case; a deli in Paddington, where a staff member has tested positive and worked on three consecutive days last week; and a gym in Blacktown attended by a positive case three consecutive mornings last week.
Traces of the virus were also detected in the Hornsby Heights sewerage treatment plant, west of the northern beaches, on 19 December. While two positive cases linked to the Avalon cluster are isolating in the area, NSW Health wants those from Berowra, Cowan, Berowra Heights, Hornsby Heights, Mount Colah, Mount Kuring-gai, Asquith and a small part of Hornsby to be cautious.
“What remains our concern is that even though the case numbers are relatively low compared to what we’ve experienced in previous days, the number of venues that are impacted grows,” Berejiklian said.
Authorities suspect another case recorded in Victoria on Tuesday is linked to the northern beaches cluster.
A 15-year-old girl who travelled with her family from NSW to Victoria on 18 December has tested positive. She stopped at a food outlet at a service station in Gundagai on the way south, but there have been no transmissions linked to the girl, and her relatives in Victoria and NSW are isolating.
Berejiklian used the press conference to make several pointed references to the strict approach taken in other states, but did not single out any particular state other than Victoria.
All states and territories have either completely closed or partially closed their borders to NSW, with concerns publicly raised by some state leaders about NSW’s response, which has not included mandatory mask wearing or lockdowns as part of its public health measures.
“You have to assess the medical risk against the risk of other things which will harm the community. So we take all of that into consideration in NSW,” Berejiklian said.
“That’s why we waited until Victoria had consistently, 140, 120, 180 cases a day before we closed our border into Victoria. That was a big step we took. There’s an element of holding your nerve. If you have confidence in your processes and the strategy, you also take that into account.
“In NSW we try and look at the big picture, we try and be compassionate as well as assessing the health risk and also the impacts on people’s livelihoods and the mental health issues, we … consider the eight million people in the state and not just particular groupings in one place or another.”
She said it was clear some state leaders did not place enough weight on compassionate reasons when making decisions about closing the borders, saying everybody in NSW was “suffering” because of their actions.
She also boasted about the NSW contact-tracing capacity compared with other states.
“Can I please stress this point? When I observe some of the practices other states have done, when I observe the timeliness in NSW, I take my hat off to [the chief health officer] and her team of contact tracers.
“To be able to get this amount of detail to you on cases that were only confirmed by 8pm last night is … a real credit to them.
“And I really want to stress that because I challenge any other state to have this much information publicly available at that short period of time and these are part of the weapons in our armoury that we’re able to deploy to control the virus to the extent we have.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: NSW records eight new Covid cases, raising prospects of eased restrictions for Christmas Day | New South Wales