NSW reports two new Covid cases linked to Berala cluster as Victoria records three cases | Health

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New South Wales has recorded two locally acquired Covid-19 cases linked to the Berala cluster in Sydney’s west, while Victoria reported three new community cases.

The latest two NSW cases were picked up overnight, after there were zero local cases recorded in the 24 hours until 8pm Sunday – the first time the state has had no community cases since 15 December. The latest cases will be included in tomorrow’s figures.

The acting premier John Barilaro said the results were “good news”, but urged more people in western Sydney and Wollongong to get tested, describing the testing figure of 22,000 as “far too low”.

NSW Health said it “expects more cases to emerge” from the Berala cluster, which now numbers 15, “given the large number of people” who attended the BWS bottle store and Woolworths in the suburb. On Sunday night, potential exposure dates for the BWS were increased to cover an 11-day period, affecting tens of thousands of people.

The state’s chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said the latest people who were infected at the bottle shop were a man in his 40s who visited on Christmas Eve and a woman in her 40s.

She said it was “critical” that anyone who attended the store “even for a few minutes” between 22 and 31 December should get tested and isolate for 14 days – even if they received a negative test result.

“We are deeming everyone close contacts,” Chant said.

The BWS store at Berala in Sydney’s west.
The BWS store at Berala in Sydney’s west. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

The NSW government is unlikely to impose a northern beaches-style lockdown on the area.

“We leave everything on the table, but I can make this clear today – there won’t be any lockdown of the Cumberland area, no other lockdown in any other parts of Sydney,” Barilaro said.

Fines of $200 for breaching new mandatory mask rules in greater Sydney also became enforceable on Monday.

NSW health minister Brad Hazzard told anyone not prepared to wear a mask to stay home.

“If they don’t like the idea of a mask, stay home or stay outside. You don’t have to go into the shopping centre and put other people in danger.”

Chant said NSW residents “should get used to wearing masks whenever we’re in indoors”, indicating the rule may remain in place even after a vaccine is rolled out.

“As we get the population vaccinated and as we open our borders, it’s unlikely the vaccine will eliminate Covid,” she said.

“We now will need to learn how to live with it and some of the practises of mask-wearing may well be important going forward. It’s too early to say, but I think people just need to get used to wearing masks.”

However, she also asked people to be “compassionate” and not police people without masks as some have medical exemptions.

“When they actually see someone not wearing a mask, leave that judgment to police or to other enforcement officers because you never know what is behind that for that individual,” she said.

Acting premier John Barilaro (left), NSW health minister Brad Hazzard (centre) and NSW chief medical Officer Dr Kerry Chant address the media in Sydney on Monday.
Acting premier John Barilaro (left), NSW health minister Brad Hazzard (centre) and NSW chief medical Officer Dr Kerry Chant address the media in Sydney on Monday. Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP

In Victoria, the state recorded three new cases of locally acquired Covid-19, all associated with the existing Black Rock cluster, which has been traced back to NSW.

More than 32,000 Victorians were tested, which acting premier Jacinta Allan said was “a very, very strong figure”, especially for a Sunday.

She defended the long delays at testing centres in recent days, indicating capacity was limited because health workers were enjoying a break.

“We wanted to make sure that our hard working health workers, who had worked so hard protecting our community over the course of 2020, had the opportunity to have a break.”

Victoria’s decision to close the border to all of NSW on New Year’s Day resulted in thousands of travellers rushing to return to the state. They were all required to get tested immediately.

Allan said Victoria had received about 2,200 entry exemption applications since the border to NSW closed, and had so far processed 175.

Hazard said the public response to the new rules in greater Sydney had been promising.

However, he said a 27-year-old woman from Cronulla, who had been ordered to self-isolate in Byron Bay, had been fined after she received “two infringement notices in the past three days”.

A wedding operator in the suburb of Fairfield was also fined $5,000 for holding a wedding on Saturday with 600 to 700 people in attendance, according to police, which Hazzard said was “almost double” what was allowed.

Barilaro also said that the Sydney Cricket Ground’s board would make an announcement later on Monday about the Sydney Test match due to start on 7 January.

In response to calls for the event to be called off, he said he was “confident” in health measures in place, however he discouraged people from regional areas from travelling to the city to attend.

“We have shown that we can run events in this state in a safe way … NSW Health through Kerry Chant’s team, have been working with the SCG and cricket to find that framework.”

However, he said every day they were “confronted with other issues”.

“If it is wet weather, what does that look like? Will people be leaving their zones seats and congregating under the shelter? They’re the things we got to deal with. What do we do about mask-wearing and maybe going up to the bar? Transport on the way in?

“We’re also giving consideration to the numbers as ticket sales continue and I will advise today that the SCG and cricket later today will be making an announcement in relation to the test.”

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: NSW reports two new Covid cases linked to Berala cluster as Victoria records three cases | Health

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